The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation which is inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of some of the countries of the Mediterranean Basin.
The concept of Mediterranean diet was presented by Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University's School of Public Health in the mid-1990's. Mediterranean diet was Based on "food patterns typical of Crete, much of the rest of Greece, and southern Italy in the early 1960s", this diet, in addition to regular physical activity, emphasizes on the consumption of abundant plant foods, fresh fruits, olive oil, dairy products and fish and poultry.
Zero to four eggs can be consumed weekly, red meat can be consumed in low amounts, and wine consumed in low to medium amounts. The Mediterranean diet is proves to be beneficial for being low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber.
The Mediterranean diet failed to gain widespread recognition until the 1990s. It is based on findings that although the people living in Mediterranean countries tend to consume relatively high amounts of fat, they have far lower rates of cardiovascular disease than in countries like the United States, where similar levels of fat consumption are found.
One of the main concepts behind Mediterranean diet is that large amount of olive oil is used in this kind of diet. Unlike the high amount of animal fats typical to the American diet, olive oil is meant to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. It is also known to lower blood sugar levels and also lowers blood pressure. Research indicates olive oil prevents peptic ulcers and is effective in treatment of people suffering from peptic ulcer disease that sometimes also prevents cancer.
The major aspects of this diet include high olive oil consumption, high consumption of legumes, unrefined cereals, low consumption of meat and meat products, high consumption of fruits, moderate consumption of dairy products, high consumption of vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, and moderate wine consumption.
Some concerns remain whether the diet provides adequate amounts of all nutrients, particularly calcium and iron. Green vegetables are a good source of calcium and iron, and goat cheese is a good source of calcium. These are common foods found in the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet contains good amounts of olive oil, bread, abundant fruit and vegetables, fish, and a moderate amount of dairy foods and wine.
The meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal sometime ago showed that following strictly the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of people dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease as well as the risk of developing Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. The results reported 9%, 9%, and 6% reduction in overall, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality respectively. Additionally 13% of reduction in incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases is to be expected provided a strict adherence to the diet is observed.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine examined the effects of three diets: low-carb, low-fat, and Mediterranean. The study involved 322 participants and lasted for 2 years. The low-carb and Mediterranean diet resulted in the greatest weight loss, 12 lbs and 10 lbs, respectively. The low-fat diet resulted in a loss of 7 lbs. One caveat of the study is that 86% of the study participants were men. The low-carb and Mediterranean diets produced similar amounts of weight loss in the overall study results and in the men. In the remaining participants who were women, the Mediterranean diet produced 3.8 kg (8.4 lbs) more weight loss on average than the low-carb diet.
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