The Mediterranean diet has long been touted for its health benefits, so it comes as little surprise that this common diet followed throughout the world has been found to also lower the prevalence of metabolic disorders.
This conclusion came on the heels of 50 studies and the results of the meta-analysis of those studies, as published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology just this week.
Overall, the results of the studies found that:
- Individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower waist circumference.
- Individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet had lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
- Individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet had lower triglycerides.
- Individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet had lower glucose levels.
- Individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
The results were compared with individuals who were on control diets or those individuals who had a “low adherence” to a Mediterranean diet. The analysis of these 50 studies was performed by Demosthenes Panagiotakos, PhD of Harokopio University in Greece and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The combined studies in this analysis had over a half million participants.
What is a Mediterranean Diet?
Although the concept of the Mediterranean diet differs because it is adopted in many of the Mediterranean countries, in general this diet includes:
- Eating a variety of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Using heart healthy oils like olive oil and canola oil in favor of butter and margarine
- Making regular exercise part of your lifestyle
- Reducing salt and replacing it with other herbs and spices
- Limiting the amount of red meat in your diet
- Incorporating poultry and fish into your diet at least two to three times each week
- Indulging in moderate amounts of red wine (one glass per day)
The notion of eating nuts and cooking with olive oil and/or canola oil is very important in the Mediterranean diet because the fats found in these foods are of the heart-healthy variety. Because they are still nonetheless high in fat, they should be enjoyed in moderation on the Mediterranean diet. It is important to consider, for example, that bread is enjoyed often in the Mediterranean diet, but it is always dipped in olive oil and herbs instead of butter or margarine.
In short, the Mediterranean diet focuses on eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. The fats eaten on a Mediterranean diet are usually low in saturated fat, thereby making this diet ideal for those individuals looking to maintain their weight, as well as their heart health.
The Mediterranean diet doesn’t focus on fat consumption, but rather making better choices when it comes to the fats we eat. In addition, enjoying a glass of red wine a few nights a week has also been shown to decrease, in some studies, the risk of heart disease. So, have a glass of wine, a nice piece of fish with loads of vegetables and enjoy the company of friends and family! Your weight, palate and heart will thank you!