The traditional Mediterranean diet has long been discussed for its health benefits as compared to other “diets” or lifestyles. From the use of olive oil to the increased consumption of beans and vegetables, it has all the components of a heart-friendly diet. And a recent ‘landmark’ study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed just that.
Researchers in Spain randomly assigned participants to 3 groups and followed them over a 5-year period. Two groups were following the Mediterranean diet (one group received free extra virgin olive oil, the other free nut mix) and the third group followed a low-fat diet (these participants received nonfood gifts). Participants (men and women ; age 55-80) in all groups had no incidence of cardiovascular disease when they were enrolled in the study but had either Type 2 diabetes or risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol (LDL)…. They all received dietary counseling and follow-ups.
- Participants were more likely to follow the Mediterranean diet than the low-fat diet
- Risk of stroke was reduced significantly in both Mediterranean diet groups.
- Mediterranean diet resulted in 30% less risk of cardiovascular diseases among high-risk persons.
What are the Mediterranean diet basics?
Consume more of:
- olive oil
- raw nuts, especially walnuts
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains and beans
Consume less of:
- Red meats (once a week)
- Processed foods and sweets
- Dairy products
Consume in moderation:
- Wine (with food)
In addition to the above, many Mediterranean dishes are cooked with lots of onion, garlic, herbs and tomatoes which add to the anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy benefits of the overall diet.
What’s in a typical Mediterranean menu for a day?
Breakfast: Labneh or cheese with vegetables and whole wheat pita bread, omelet, baked eggs with tomato sauce,…
Lunch: Grilled fish with a side salad, or mujaddara (rice and lentil pilaf) with a tomato and cabbage salad and whole wheat pita, or couscous with roasted vegetables and grilled chicken, or spinach salad with pasta Bolognese or stuffed vine leaves and stuffed zucchini with yogurt, or beans stew with rice, or minestrone…..
Snacks: fruits and nuts, veggie sticks, molasses with tahini,…
The Mediterranean diet is so versatile that’s why it is so easy to follow. Not to mention that it’s one of the tastiest!P.S: You can always check out my meal plan every Monday for weekly Mediterranean dish inspiration.