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Marvels of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is rich in cereals, fruits, legumes and whole grains, fish and olive oil. Numerous previous studies have shown those who follow the Mediterranean diet live longer, have less heart disease, and a reduced risk of cancers. As well, the Mediterranean diet may be beneficial for:
• Death Due to Chronic Disease: A meta-analysis of 12
international studies, involving a total of 1.5 million study subjects,
completed by University of Florence (Italy) researchers found that the
participants who most strictly followed a Mediterranean diet had a 9%
reduction in overall mortality, a 9% drop in death from cardiovascular
diseases, a 13% reduction in the incidence of Parkinson’s and
Alzheimer’s Diseases, and a 6% reduction in cancer.
• Heart Disease: A team from the Population Health Research Institute (Canada) conducted a review of nearly 200 clinical studies of the Mediterranean diet pattern published in the last 50 years. The team found it to be clearly associated with lowering the risk of heart disease, identifying strong evidence of a causal relationship for protective factors, including intake of vegetables, nuts and monounsaturated fatty acids and Mediterranean, prudent and high-quality dietary patterns, and harmful factors, including intake of trans-fatty acids and foods with a high glycemic index or load and a western dietary pattern.
• Diabetes: Researchers from the University of Navarra (Spain) studied 11,380 University graduates who did not have diabetes at the study’s start. Those study participants who were found to have the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet were 83% less likely to develop type-2 diabetes (as compared to those with the lowest adherence). The researchers submit that the Mediterranean diet lowers plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers and markers of endothelial dysfunction, two biomarkers that predict the future likelihood of type-2 diabetes.
• Metabolic Syndrome: Harokopio University (Greece) researchers completed a meta-analysis of 50 published studies of the Mediterranean diet involving 534,906 participants. The team found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced risk of Metabolic Syndrome. Specifically, the Mediterranean diet was found to be protective against waist circumference, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and glucose metabolism.
• Stroke: Columbia University Medical Center (New York, USA), researchers studied 712 adults living in New York, analyzing their diets and categorizing on how closely they followed a Mediterranean diet. The team found that those subjects who most closely followed a Mediterranean-style diet were 36% less likely to have fewer infarcts, which are areas of stroke-related brain damage (as compared to those who least closely followed the diet). Further, those who were moderate followers of Mediterranean style diet had a 21% lower risk of brain damage (compared with the lowest group).
• Cognitive Health: A team from Columbia University Medical Center (New York, USA) studied a multiethnic group of 1,875 men and women residing in metropolitan New York City. The researchers determined that those study subjects who adhered closely to a Mediterranean diet were at 28% reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), as compared to those who did not follow such a diet. Additionally, those with MCI at the start of the study were at 48% less risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease over the study’s 4.5-year period if they adhered to the Mediterranean diet.
• Depression: University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) researchers studied 10,094 initially healthy university graduates, collecting data regarding their dietary habits and following each participant for the onset of clinical depression. The researchers found that those who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet were more than 30% less likely to develop depression than those who least adhered to the diet.
Follow these general guidelines to embrace the Mediterranean diet on an everyday basis:
• Enjoy ample amounts of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
• Use healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
• Enhance food flavor with herbs and spices instead of salt
• Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month
• Enjoy fish and poultry at least twice a week
• Drink a glass of red wine (optional)