The Truth And Benefits Behind The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is not without controversy
It's official - everybody seems to be interested in the connection between their health and their diet. Following that old adage "you are what you eat", we now know that our diets can have wonderful, positive effects on our health and well-being - or negative and disastrous effects.
There's been a lot of focus on the health and weight loss benefits of low fat, and low carb diets - but what about the Mediterranean diet? One of the most popular diets observed by a lot of people from around the world is the mediterranean diet. The mediterranean diet does not only incorporate the proper foods, it also fosters an improved attitude towards a healthier lifestyle.
The Mediterranean diet is actually a bit of a misnomer - as there are many Mediterranean people and cultures that do not follow this diet. What it actually refers to is the pattern of eating and lifestyle observed in poor Mediterranean cultures in the 1960s.
While the Mediterranean diet was originally described earlier (1940s) it didn't really catch on until the mid 1990s after the most commonly accepted version of the diet was put forth by Dr. Walter Willet of Harvard University's School of Public Health. The diet was based on patterns of food consumption typical of Crete, parts of Greece, and southern Italy in the early 1960s. This diet, in addition to "regular physical activity," emphasizes abundant plant foods, low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry, a maximum of four eggs consumed weekly, red meat consumed in low quantities, fresh fruits for desserts and olive oil as the principal source of fat as well as dairy products (principally cheese and yogurt) in low amounts, and wine consumed in low to moderate amounts.
Total fat in this diet is about 30% of calories, with saturated fat at 8% or less of calories
Over time the Mediterranean diet has been extensively researched. In most of the clinical trials and meta-analyses done the diet continues to prove its multiple health benefits. For example compared to low fat and low-carb diet, it has been shown to lead to greater degrees of weight loss, with lower rates of lost weight re-gain
There are also clear health benefits as well despite the diets high mono-saturated fat and salt content (from olive oil, nuts &olives). Reductions in the overall mortality rates as well as death due to cardiovascular disease and cancer have been reported and well documented. Some studies even suggest that it can even reduce the incidence of and severity of Alzheimer's disease.
The Mediterranean diet is not without controversy however. Some people argue that a mediterranean diet is generally high in fats, and this is certainly true. However, it is extremely low in saturated fats, which are considered as bad fats. It stresses lots of olive oil, which is why a lot of experts claim that it is high in fat and yet; olive oil has been proven to increase the good cholesterol levels in the body.
Still, other researchers feel that the health benefits associated with this diet are due the lifestyle choices common to the region - such as high degree of physical labor and increased amounts of sunlight - inducing a solar UVB elevation in vitamin D levels in skin oils, this has been linked to decreased levels of cardiovascular disease in some study participants. The Mediterranean diet is also amazingly high in antioxidants and fiber as these can help the body lessen the risk of heart disease, stroke and other forms of cancer. It also effectively delays aging.
So while there is some controversy, its pretty well accepted that the best diet for your healthy living and even weight loss is a diet that is low in meat products, high in fiber and vegetables with a moderate amount of carbs is best. Combined with regular daily exercise and some alcohol consumption this diet and lifestyle is supremely equipped to you're your health up and your weight down. So follow a healthy diet and stay light & lean - just like your food!
About the Author
Dr. Okwuje isn't your average medical practitioner. As an athlete and trainer for many years, he has personal experience in the field of health and personal fitness. His areas of interest are DNA health and disease prevention, maintenance of good health, anti-aging and healthy weight loss.