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ABOUT JUJU’S MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN
Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School
The Mediterranean Diet refers to the traditional eating habits of individuals who live in countries around the Mediterranean Sea – Italy, Greece and Spain to name a few. This eating style emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (lentils, dried peas and beans), fish, nuts, olive oil and wine (in moderation). It goes beyond a diet, however, by encouraging daily physical activity and embracing an attitude about food and eating that fosters pleasure. The Mediterranean style of eating is often cited as a way to protect against a number of ailments and boost health from infancy through old age. Research presented at the recent 15th International Conference on the Mediterranean Diet seems to bear this out. Here are some highlights of the health benefits of this “gold standard” way of eating. Hopefully they will inspire you to adopt a Mediterranean eating style.
1. Reduced risk of dying prematurely
This is largely due to the diet’s impact on cancer and cardiovascular disease. In one study, a high degree of adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 17% reduction in total mortality. In another study, individuals over age 60 with a previous history of heart attack lowered overall mortality by 18% when adopting such an eating pattern.
2. Lower diabetes risk
Diabetes rates are skyrocketing. So it’s great news that eating “Mediterranean” lowers diabetes risk. Researchers in Spain assessed the diets and tracked the health of over 13,000 men and women for more than four years. They found that people who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely were 83% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared with those individuals whose diets were least like the Mediterranean diet.
3. Weight loss
Researchers from Israel and Harvard University assigned 322 obese individuals to
one of three diets: Mediterranean, low-
4. Brain protection
Research from Columbia University looked at the eating habits of 2,258 older adults. They found that individuals whose eating habits closely matched the traditional Mediterranean diet were 40% less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease than those whose diets were least like the Mediterranean style of eating. Harvard researchers have seen links between this diet and protection from Parkinson’s. Other researchers have found a connection between the Mediterranean diet and protection against cognitive decline as well.
5. Fewer lung diseases
Add improved breathing to the benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet. Research has shown a reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and wheezing. Especially notable is the research showing how maternal and child adherence to this eating style benefits children. In fact, children born to mothers who closely followed the diet while pregnant were 88% less likely to experience persistent wheeze. In another study, when researchers studied the eating patterns of nearly 1,500 children, they found a 40% decrease in the risk of asthma among children who adhered to the Mediterranean diet most closely.
6. Arthritis relief
Following the Mediterranean diet helps reduce pain and stiffness associated with
rheumatoid arthritis. The presence of extra-
7. Lower food costs
The Mediterranean diet is a cost-
Last Annual Review Date: Jan 5, 2009 Copyright: © Harvard Health Publications