The Mediterranean Diet is known for its outstanding health benefits and promotion of longevity. Many studies in the past that researched the Mediterranean Diet looked at one food group or concentrate on a single nutrient; the papers used in this article have been published since 2007 and all take a broader stance looking at the Mediterranean Diet as a whole. The Mediterranean Diet differs from others due to its abundance in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains, fish and olive oil as the primary source of fat, in addition to the limited amount of dairy, red meat, poultry and saturated fats . Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and healthy oils are consumed on a daily basis while fish, eggs and poultry are served a “few” times a week and finally sweets and red meat are eaten in small quantities or on a monthly basis. So what does current research have to say about this diet?
In short, the Mediterranean Diet is a healthy eating plan with multiple benefits. A cohort study of over 3200 high-risk patients published in 2008 reported that close adherence to the Mediterranean Diet reduced the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) . The Mediterranean Diet also has been shown to reduce inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease and general mortality [1, 3-4]. Individuals who follow the Mediterranean Diet also experience less Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s [3, 5]. Finally, to rule out environmental and genetic factors influencing the well-being of individuals following the Mediterranean Diet a group of scientists looked at how food choices influenced the health of twins. Researchers found that the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet were a results of the healthy content of the diet not a result of the genetic make-up or environment of the people following it . To wrap things up, research shows the Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, hypercholestolemia, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s while it also decreases inflammation.
The Mediterranean Diet is not the only healthy diet out there. There are many diets that have also been studied expensively and have shown to be beneficial. Some other research supported healthy diets are the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, the OmniHeart Diet, and the Healthy Eating Pyramid. What is more important than what diet you follow, is that you find a healthy diet you can are willing to stick to. So explore your options and find a plan that suites you lifestyle best.
1. Sofi, F., et al., Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis. British Medical Journal, 2008. 337(sep11 2): p. a1344.
2. Sánchez-Taínta, A., et al., Adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet and reduced prevalence of clustered cardiovascular risk factors in a cohort of 3204 high-risk patients. European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation, 2008. 15(5): p. 589-593 10.1097/HJR.0b013e328308ba61.
3. Willett, W., The Mediterranean diet: science and practice. Public health nutrition, 2007. 9(1a): p. 105-110.
4. Dai, J., et al., Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is inversely associated with circulating interleukin-6 among middle-aged men: a twin study. Circulation, 2008. 117(2): p. 169.
5. Knopman, D., Mediterranean diet and late-life cognitive impairment: A taste of benefit. JAMA, 2009. 302(6): p. 686.