For some 20 years, the Mediterranean Diet has been recommended as a healthier way of eating than the standard Western Diet, particularly in respect of its positive effects on cardiovascular risk. But what is the Mediterranean Diet all about?
On face value, it looks as if it includes high levels of meat, dairy and fat – so what is the truth behind the hype? The Mediterranean diet, as recommended by Nutritional Therapists, actually refers to the style of eating in 1960’s Crete, Greece and Southern Italy. These populations ate an abundance of plant food (fruit and vegetables, whole-grain cereals, nuts and legumes).
Their fat came from olive oil, and fish and lean poultry provided their animal protein, with only small amounts of red meat or dairy consumed. It was noted that these populations suffered a lower incidence of death from cardiovascular disease or cancer and enjoyed longer life than other populations.
As a result, the traditional Mediterranean diet is still researched and studied, and it compares favourably to the Western diet which is higher in saturated fat, processed food and refined sugar. In a recent study, the Mediterranean diet was compared to a low-fat diet. Groups of volunteers were assigned to the low-fat group or one of two Mediterranean diet groups, one with added olive oil, and one with added nuts.
Both Mediterranean diet groups showed an improvement in cardiovascular markers as well as lower fasting glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity. This is good news for anyone wanting to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease including those who may be predisposed due to obesity or metabolic syndrome.
If you would like more information on how to adopt a Mediterranean diet, call to arrange a consultation!