The Mediterranean diet was originally based on foods consumed by the people of Crete, Greece, southern Italy and other Mediterranean countries where rates of chronic disease were low and life expectancy long.
The Mediterranean dietary plan emphasized daily consumption of bread, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, cheese and yogurt, dried beans and nuts. Daily physical activity, a traditional part of life in these areas, is emphasized. Fish, poultry, eggs, and sweets are recommended weekly and red meat monthly. Wine with meals is part of the plan.
Study after study has shown health benefits with decreased mortality from all causes, lower heart disease risk, diabetes, type 2, obesity and some types of cancer. It has beneficial effects on abdominal obesity, lipid levels, glucose metabolism, and blood pressure levels – all risk factors for metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes type 2. Some studies suggest a beneficial effect on the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent meta-analysis of epidemiology and clinical trials published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on March 15, 2011, analyzed 50 studies on the diet, with an overall population of about one-half million individuals. The results showed that adherence to a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of metabolic syndrome and improved its components such as decreased waist circumference, increased high density lipoprotein, decreased triglycerides, reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and improved glucose metabolism.
This study is of great importance to public health, since all population groups and various cultures can easily adopt this dietary pattern.
I have often enjoyed the Website, Mediterrasian.com which showcases not only the Mediterranean Diet but also the healthy Asian diet. It is well maintained with background, research, and recipes on these healthy eating lifestyles. Check it out on my BlogRoll or by the link above.