The Mediterranean Diet

by Christine on June 15th, 2010

filed under Diet, Food, Nutrition, General Information

Red WineI have been scouring medical journals and recent medical reports in the last few days (yay for PubMed!) and I consistently see references to the “Mediterranean Diet” and the benefits this diet has on the average human body.

So I can figure that this diet plan probably involves lots of fish, limited red meat, ample wine and healthy fats…but the details are a little fuzzy for me. I thought I would delve into this diet in today’s edition of The Phoenix Revolution Blog News!

Who lauds the Mediterranean Diet?

Mayo Clinic

WebMD

What are the benefits?

  • A 2007 study showed that the Mediterranean diet leads to a decrease risk of heart disease and cancer
  • The Mediterranean Diet has been associated with lower LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
  • High life expectancy, up to a six percent reduction in mortality according to the Mediterranean Diet Foundation
  • A high-fat diet like this can help keep you “regular” on the potty.
  • This diet keeps blood circulation healthy and prevents blood clots from forming (mostly from the red wine)
  • A 12 year study showed that those following this diet have significantly lower body weights, low blood pressure, blood fats, blood sugar, and insulin levels.
  • A four-year study from Columbia University medical Center showed that those following this diet had up to 40% less risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • A new study from the Institute of Epidemiology at Ulm University in Germany suggests that the Mediterranean diet may cut risk for respiratory disease.

How is it different from other diets?

  • Drink red wine, in moderation (5 oz per day for women, 10 oz per day for men)
  • Limit consumption of red meat
  • Eat fish or shellfish twice a week
  • Use herbs and spices to flavor food instead of salt
  • Consume healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Consume nuts, in moderation
  • Eat in small portions, especially because many of the foods on this diet are high in calories
  • Partake in beans and peas, especially white beans, lentils, chick peas, and capers
  • Eating whole grains is okay, such as couscous, polenta, rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes.
  • Consumption of cheese and milk is okay, in moderation. Yogurt is an especially good choice.
  • Choosing eggs is allowed!

Of course, like other diets, the Mediterranean Diet requires lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.  For example, residents of Greece eat very little red meat and an average of nine servings a day of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. (Many people in the Mediterranean area have fruit for dessert.) However, it is the consumption of healthy fats that makes this diet unique.  The goal is to choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats, which contain linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid). These can be found in canola oil, walnuts, and fish.  Avoid bad fats that can be found in butter and heavy sauces as well as bacon and fatty meats.

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