The Mediterranean Diet is known for
its outstanding health benefits and promotion of longevity.  Many studies in the past that researched the Mediterranean
Diet looked at one food group or concentrate on a single nutrient; the papers
used in this article have been published since 2007 and all take a broader
stance looking at the Mediterranean Diet as a whole.  The Mediterranean Diet differs from others
due to its abundance in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains, fish and
olive oil as the primary source of fat, in addition to the limited amount of
dairy, red meat, poultry and saturated fats [1].
 Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and
healthy oils are consumed on a daily basis while fish, eggs and poultry are
served a “few” times a week and finally sweets and red meat are eaten in small
quantities or on a monthly basis.  So
what does current research have to say about this diet?

In short, the Mediterranean Diet is
a healthy eating plan with multiple benefits. 
A cohort study of over 3200 high-risk patients published in 2008
reported that close adherence to the Mediterranean Diet reduced the risk of hypertension,
diabetes, obesity and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) [2].    The
Mediterranean Diet also has been shown to reduce inflammation, cancer,
cardiovascular disease and general mortality [1, 3-4].  Individuals who follow the Mediterranean Diet
also experience less Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s [3, 5].  Finally, to rule out environmental and
genetic factors influencing the well-being of individuals following the
Mediterranean Diet a group of scientists looked at how food choices influenced
the health of twins.  Researchers found
that the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet were a results of the healthy content
of the diet not a result of the genetic make-up or environment of the people
following it [4].  To wrap things up, research shows the
Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity,
hypercholestolemia, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s
while it also decreases inflammation.

The Mediterranean Diet is not the
only healthy diet out there.  There are
many diets that have also been studied expensively and have shown to be
beneficial.  Some other research
supported healthy diets are the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
Diet, the OmniHeart Diet, and the Healthy Eating Pyramid.  What is more important than what diet you
follow, is that you find a healthy diet you can are willing to stick to.  So explore your options and find a plan that
suites you lifestyle best.

References 

1.            Sofi, F., et al., Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health
status: meta-analysis.
British Medical Journal, 2008. 337(sep11 2): p. a1344.

2.            Sánchez-Taínta,
A., et al., Adherence to a
Mediterranean-type diet and reduced prevalence of clustered cardiovascular risk
factors in a cohort of 3204 high-risk patients.
European Journal of
Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation, 2008. 15(5): p. 589-593 10.1097/HJR.0b013e328308ba61.

3.            Willett,
W., The Mediterranean diet: science and
practice.
Public health nutrition, 2007. 9(1a): p. 105-110.

4.            Dai,
J., et al., Adherence to the
Mediterranean diet is inversely associated with circulating interleukin-6 among
middle-aged men: a twin study.
Circulation, 2008. 117(2): p. 169.

5.            Knopman,
D., Mediterranean diet and late-life
cognitive impairment: A taste of benefit.
JAMA, 2009. 302(6): p. 686.

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