Lessons from the Mediterranean Diet
By Michelle Gelok, RD • August 6th, 2010 • 6899 Views
While every region of the world has its own traditional diet, perhaps none are as well known, and studied as the diet that is typical of the Mediterranean region that includes Greece, Italy and France among other countries.
Rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, olive oil and fish – the diet that is typical of this region is low in artery clogging saturated and trans fat, high in fibre and antioxidants and rich in heart healthy unsaturated fat.
The Mediterranean diet first made headlines in the early 1990’s when researchers noted its exceptional nutrient content. Today, the diet is still making waves after extensive research has shown the extent of its health benefits, including offering protection against heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Study findings released last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a Mediterranean-style diet beat out a low-fat diet in terms of controlling diabetes. Researchers randomly assigned either a low fat diet or a Mediterranean-style diet to 215 overweight people who were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. After four years, researchers found that only 44 percent of the people receiving the Mediterranean style diet required drug treatment to control their diabetes, compared to 70 percent in the low fat group. What’s more, the Mediterranean-style diet was also associated with greater weight loss and a healthier body mass index.
It seems the diet doesn’t only help control diabetes; it also plays a role in preventing the onset of the disease. Study findings released in the British Medical Journal examined the eating habits of over 13,000 Spanish university graduates and found that participants who ate a Mediterranean-style diet had a lower risk of developing diabetes. In fact, people who followed the diet the closest had a staggering 83 percent reduced risk of developing the disease, compared to people who didn’t follow the diet.
The Mediterranean-style diet has also been found to offer protection from cardiovascular disease and cancer. One of the largest studies to date on the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet was released in 2003 by Harvard researchers. After analyzing the diets of over 22,000 people living in Greece, they found that people who closely followed a Mediterranean style diet tended to live longer and were less likely to die from heart disease and cancer.
Take a cue from this exceptionally healthy diet, by adding these staples to your diet.
Contrary to most other healthy diets, the Mediterranean...
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