mediterranean diet

The term “Mediterranean diet” comes from observations of the eating habits of certain Mediterranean-based peoples, such as Greece or Italy. After World War II, researchers observed longer life expectancy and healthier habits in some regions of the Mediterranean, particularly Crete (Greece). That’s why this diet is also called the Cretan diet.

This scheme is based on regular and high consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts , fish and polyunsaturated fats, found especially in olive oil. Fruits and vegetables are normally grown locally and are therefore seasonal. Also, they are consumed daily with every meal. The low consumption of meat, eggs, dairy products, sweets and processed foods is another element of this diet. Note that olive oil is the main source of fat for followers of this diet. Alcohol is generally consumed in moderation with meals, wine being the source of choice.

In addition to the foods described above, the Mediterranean diet also includes regular exercise.


diet effects

The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory activity in the body, helping to protect the genetic material of cells.

Today this diet has crossed borders and is recommended by many doctors and nutritionists around the world, including the United States, a country where obesity is considered an epidemic and the daily diet is more based on meat and saturated fats.

The Mediterranean diet would protect against overeating, obesity and pre-diabetes compared to a Western diet. This was revealed in an animal study published on April 23, 2019 in the journal Obesity (DOI: 10.1002/oby.22436). According to the researchers, Mediterranean eating should allow people to feel better about food, enjoy their food better, and not overeat.

Scientific studies regarding this diet

Many studies have shown significant health benefits of this diet, such as in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, stroke , Alzheimer’s disease , cancer , kidney disease or even Parkinson’s disease .
In December 2014, an American study carried out by researchers from Boston and published in the journal BMJ showed that women who followed this diet had longer telomeres inside the cell compared to those who did not adopt such eating habits. The consequence is better protection of the genetic material, which would explain the longer life expectancy of women who follow this diet. More than 4500 women participated in this study.

Mediterranean diet with olive oil to prevent breast cancer

According to a Spanish study (called PREDIMED) published in September 2015 in the journal JAMA: Internal Medicine , women who followed a Mediterranean diet and consumed more than 4 tablespoons of cold-pressed olive oil per day were 62% less likely to being diagnosed with breast cancerwhen compared to those following a low-fat Mediterranean diet with a nut supplement. This study involved over 4,000 women aged between 60 and 80 who were followed for 5 years. Part of the participants had to follow a Mediterranean diet with a daily intake of nuts, another part had to take 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and a third part had to follow a Mediterranean diet without supplementary food, but eating low-fat foods. fat content. Among the 4,000 study participants followed for 5 years, 35 developed breast cancer.

Participants who followed the diet with additional nuts showed no statistically significant reduction in breast cancer risk. Finally, the olive oil supplement diet was the only one able to significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Researchers believe that the antioxidants found in high amounts in cold-pressed olive oil are the cause of these cancer-fighting effects. Antioxidants help kill cancer cells and therefore stop tumor growth.

In an article published on the Harvard Medical School website , scientist Daniel Pendick comments on this study and notes that these results must be confirmed (or not) in a larger sample of participants, as according to him only 35 cases of cancer were not statistically enough to draw definitive conclusions.

Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer’s disease

A study published in early August 2016 in the specialist journal Frontiers of Nutrition showed that the Mediterranean diet helped to reduce cognitive decline, as well as the onset of Alzheimer’s disease , in addition to helping to improve cognitive function. To reach these conclusions Roy Hardman and his team at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, examined 18 studies published on this subject between 2000 and 2015. According to these researchers, the effect of the Mediterranean diet on memory was particularly significant. Australian scientists also pointed out that it is possible to start this diet at any age to enjoy a favorable effect on brain function.

Interviewed by Create health in August 2016 Roy Hardman, who led the study, notes that in the Mediterranean diet extra virgin olive oil is the main source of fat, which is important for good brain health.

– Mediterranean diet and diabetes
The Mediterranean diet may be a good way to improve blood glycemic (sugar) levels in people with diabetes, according to a German study carried out mainly by the institution Deutsche Institut für Ernährungsforschung . The presence of large amounts of dietary fiber in fruits and vegetables seems to be at the root of the beneficial effects of this diet on diabetes, according to a survey carried out by German researchers. To reach their conclusions, the scientists took into account more than 5,000 participants. Compared to other diets (eg paleo diet), the Mediterranean diet was the most effective in reducing fasting blood glucose. This study was published on January 4, 2018 in the scientific journalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology (DOI: 10.1007 / s10654-017-0352-x).

– Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular health

A Spanish study published in May 2022 in the scientific journal The Lancet (DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(22)00122-2 ) showed a beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular health, decreasing the risk of heart (myocardial) infarction and cerebrovascular accident (CVA). In more detail, this study involved 1,000 people in Spain who were suffering from coronary artery disease (the build-up of plaque in the arteries of the heart). Participants were randomly divided into two groups. One group followed a Mediterranean diet and the other a low-fat diet.1 . Both diets emphasized fruits and vegetables. However, the Mediterranean diet emphasized foods high in monounsaturated fats – especially olive oil and nuts – as well as legumes, whole grains, poultry and fatty fish. The low-fat diet had less monounsaturated fat, only lean versions of fish and poultry, more calories per day from carbohydrates, especially whole grains, vegetables and potatoes. People in both groups regularly saw nutritionists. Seven years later, people in the Mediterranean diet group had a 26% lower risk of heart attack or stroke than people in the low-fat group, according to an August 2022 Harvard Medical School article.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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