So What Is the Mediterranean Diet?

The fact that the Mediterranean Diet has led to lower rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer has been known for decades; and the latest study highlighted over the media recently (see here) is on the back of several similar studies done over the years. I had written about one such study in an earlier blog posting in 2008 (see here).

Mediterranean food pyramid

So how many more studies do we need before the guidelines on healthy eating habits are changed by governments from the low-fat high carbohydrate that is so widely advocated? Even in those countries where a greater awareness of what constitutes healthy eating exists, the end-product may not be what the consumer paid for – olive oil is adulterated and/or filtered, garlic is taken as a pill than a freshly-crushed clove and even red wine is not aged and commercially processed so that it is lacking in polyphenols.

olive oil

There are many grades of olive oil – extra virgin being the best

The Mediterranean Diet – low in saturated fat and high in fiber and monounsaturated fat -  includes vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes, fruit, and moderate red wine, if so inclined. The main cooking fat is olive oil – pure unfiltered virgin olive oil is preferable, although the quality varies quite a bit commercially.

It is interesting to note that this oil has been around since time immemorial and its benefits  mentioned by most of the world’s major religions, whether its the Muslim Hadith (“Consume olive oil and anoint it upon your bodies since it is of the blessed tree”), the Catholic church (“Oil of the Sick”) or the Jewish Talmud which states that frequent consumption of olive oil is good for one’s memory.

But behind the benefits of this diet, a more stark message is revealed: that the typical ‘Western Diet’ is  the antithesis, with processing, additives and chemical substitutes causing many of the lifestyle diseases it is supposed to prevent.

 

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