Have your patients ever asked you about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet? If so, and you weren’t quite sure about the basics, we’d like to give you a quick explanation of the diet.
Mimicking the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean diet is based on the healthy eating and lifestyle habits of the people living in southern Italy, the Greek island of Crete, and other areas of Greece in the early 1960s.
The Mediterranean diet is often cited as beneficial for being low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber. One of the main explanations is thought to be the health effects of olive oil included in the Mediterranean diet. A 10-year study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet and healthful lifestyle was associated with more than a 50% lowering of early death rates. Other studies show that a Mediterranean-type diet is advantageous across the board for cardiovascular risk factors, including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
In addition to regular physical activity, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts (base every meal on these foods; no candied, honey-roasted, or heavily salted nuts)
- Replacing butter with olive oil (preferably, extra virgin)
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Eating dairy foods in moderation; primarily cheese and Greek yogurt
- Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
A few warnings to be on the lookout for, and to monitor, if any of your patients decide to go on the Mediterranean diet full time:
- Patients with allergies to latex may also be cross-allergic to chickpeas or other foods from the Leguminosae family, which are common in the Mediterranean diet
- There is a risk for weight gain due to high intake of fats
- There is a risk for reduced iron levels and possible calcium loss resulting from the reduced consumption of dairy products
A quick “Mediterranean Diet” search on the Internet will yield an abundance of recipes, meal plans and sample menus, detailed lists of specific foods, plus much more. If you’d like to try out some delicious, healthy recipes from a Mediterranean diet yourself, here are 5 quick and easy dishes to get you started…
- Mediterranean Book http://www.mediterraneanbook.com/the-mediterranean-diet.
- Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option. Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011.
- The Mediterranean diet. Mediterranean Diet Today http://www.mediterraneandiettoday.com.
- Mediterranean diet. Natural Standard http://www.bing.com/health/article/naturalstandard-NSmediterraneandiet/Mediterranean-diet?q=mediterranean+diet&qpvt=meterrain+diet.
- The Mediterranean diet. WebMD http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-mediterranean-diet?page=2.
- Mediterranean diet directory. WebMD http://www.webmd.com/diet/mediterranean-diet-directory.
- Mediterranean diet. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_diet.
- Wood H. Mediterranean diet food list. Live Strong http://www.livestrong.com/article/83217-mediterranean-diet-list.