What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The term Mediterranean diet refers to a specific combination of foods rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins together with a perfect balance of fatty acids. However, it may not be classified as one of the typical meal plans followed to achieve targeted health outcomes, especially weight loss. In fact, Mediterranean diet (MD) is not just about eating food as you cannot eat your way for weight loss or for better health. MD is actually a harmony of diet and lifestyle which results in a healthy life balance ever so elusive in practically all regions of the world except Greece, Crete, Italy and Spain. The latter regions are often geographically identified as the Mediterranean basin. The Mediterranean diet is not merely a fad as it has been in practice since time immemorial in the region. While fad diets vanish to oblivion in just a short span of time, MD persisted through the years. Its vaunted efficacy for a long roster of health benefits evolved from tradition and word-of-mouth to unproven claims and conjectures, until scientific research documented the link between typical food consumed by a specific population on one hand and their longevity and low prevalence of chronic and coronary diseases on the other hand. MD is the sum total of food included in the diet, how food is eaten, and how various desirable practices are synergized to create a potent life balance for healthy living. Therefore, MD may be more appropriately referred to as the Mediterranean healthy lifestyle. As readers would have noticed, the region where the MD originated comprises of several groups of culturally different people. However, despite marked changes in their traditional diets and comfort foods, the people in this region are aware of the importance of enjoying their meal and whenever possible, they enjoy a hearty midday meal with the whole family.
How Does the Mediterranean Diet Works?
With fish, meat, and dairy components, the MD is delightfully flavorful and abounds in hedonistic qualities. Yet, the diets were frugal and do not have excessive calories. Adding up to the moderate calorie intake is regular physical activity, though not exactly the idea of physical activity popular in the gyms of Western countries, but extensive enough to result in lower rates of obesity in the Mediterranean region. Thus, the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle was thought to be something good to emulate. Further studies later buttressed the Keys’ findings and a roster of health benefits had been compiled. In no time, a new and effective regimen for health and longevity was born. This chapter summarizes the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet. Results of three recent studies showed that: From a study published in the British Medical Journal in the year 2008, following the traditional MD resulted in a 9% decreased in deaths from coronary artery disease. In 2011, a systematic review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology involving 535,000 cases revealed that traditional MD is correlated with lower blood pressure, and lower levels blood glucose and triglycerides. In early 2013, a study among 7,447 cases of high risk of cardiovascular conditions showed no significant difference among three groups in the reduction of risk for heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Two groups both followed the traditional MD but one group was supplemented with olive, while the other was supplement with nuts. The third group followed a low-fat diet. As compiled by Denver physician Eric Zacharias in 2012, MD is effective in the prevention of obesity and in weight loss. From the same compilation, Dr.