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Mediterranean Diet Basics

The basics of the Mediterranean diet can be broken into 9 important areas of change for your health:

1. Vegetables - This one's pretty easy. It’s hard to eat too many vegetables...
2. Legumes - Making beans your choice for a starch...
3. Fruits and nuts - Fruit is the perfect snack...
4. Cereals - Whole grains are really good for you...
5. Fish - More fish, less meat...
6. Olive oil - This really means eating more monounsaturated fat...
7. Dairy products - The traditional Mediterranean diet doesn’t have dairy products as a major focus...
8. Meats - Less meat and lean meats...
9. Alcohol - There is good evidence that moderate use of alcohol is good for you...

Need more information? Read about the research!

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The Mediterranean Diet



(part 2)

Prior to 2003, there had been a number of studies to indicate how healthy the Mediterranean Diet is but no definitive data. In a large study that examined over 22,000 healthy adults in Greece, Antonia Trichopoulou and his colleagues found that those eating a Mediterranean diet had a significant reduction in death due to heart disease and cancer.

FennelThis was the first large scale study to evaluate people “prospectively” with the researchers following participants over time. Dr. Trichopoulou and his colleagues evaluated the diets of those in the study for a year prior to the beginning of data collection. They then looked at nine dietary components. A value was assigned of either 1 or 0 for each dietary category. If a participant was found to have eaten a diet higher in one of the nine dietary components they received a 1. The maximum score for a “perfect” Mediterranean diet would be 9 and a score of 0 would indicate a more Western diet pattern. They also issued a lifestyle questionnaire that recorded physical activity.

The results are pretty amazing. Those who had better scores lived longer. The best part is that small changes have a large effect. A two point improvement (say from 5 to 7) on Dr. Trichopoulou’s scale resulted in a 25% reduction in death from heart disease. This would mean that by simply eating more vegetables and legumes you could markedly improve your health.

The results of this research are so fantastic because they show how simple changes can make a major difference in your health. While the researchers looked a number of factors, the core of the Mediterranean diet can be broken into 9 important areas of change for your health. Next Page »

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Research Articles - The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet and Genetics
We know that following the Mediterranean Diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your cholesterol scores, and help you live longer, but what we don't know is WHY that is. Research studies have suggested that the Mediterranean Diet helps to reduce the systemic inflammation which has been identified as a major risk of heart disease, but the results of those studies have been inconsistent at best.

If You Needed Any More Evidence: More on the Mediterranean Diet
Researchers in Italy recently pooled the results of 12 previously-performed studies of the effects of the Mediterranean Diet on people's overall health (BMJ 2008; 337:a1344). These studies included, in total, over 1.5 million people and each study lasted between three and 18 years.

Which is better, The Mediterranean Diet or a Low-Carb Diet?
There is more and more evidence that eating a carbohydrate restricted diet like Atkins can help with weight loss. Research is mixed but low carbohydrate may help better with cholesterol but not quite as well for blood sugar. The fact of the matter is that for most of those eating a Western style diet any change is a change for the better.

The Mediterranean Diet and Death in America
I've reported in the past on studies that investigate the Mediterranean Diet's effects on cholesterol and heart disease. Recently the National Cancer Institute, in partnership with AARP, published the findings of a long term, large scale, prospective study (meaning the subjects were followed through time) on the Mediterranean Diet and its effects on all-cause mortality in the United States (Arch Intern Med 2007; 167(22) 2461-2468).

Mediterranean Diet, lifestyle factors, and the elderly:
Researchers in the Department of Dietetics at Harokopio University, in Athens, Greece, evaluated the combined effects of a Mediterranean Diet, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and other factors on the cholesterol levels of persons 65 and over.

The Mediterranean Diet and heart attack survival:
We know that the Mediterranean Diet can help prevent cardiovascular disease, but what if you have an acute coronary event anyway?

Just a little olive oil:
Olive oil has a well-deserved reputation for helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. Most of that reputation is from research into the Mediterranean Diet, so named because it is a collection of dietary habits followed by those in the region of the Mediterranean Sea.

More interesting Mediterranean Diet research:
Eating a Mediterranean diet has clearly been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Numerous studies have been completed, but most have compared the diet to a typical Western diet....

A Mediterranean Diet Won't Make You Fat:
You've probably heard that a "Mediterranean Diet" will help you live longer. . . . Recently, though, there's been some concern that although a Mediterranean diet might be good for your heart, it appears to lead to weight gain and obesity.