Date Published: 24 July 2012

Positive effects of a Mediterranean diet for health and well-being

A healthy diet and lifestyle is important for good general health and well-being.

Prof Catherine Itsiopoulos of the Centre for Dietetics at La Trobe University (Australia) has recently explained some of the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. The advantages of a Mediterranean diet include reduced incidence of "modern" diseases such as heart disease and type two diabetes (see heart disease news and diabetes news).

"The Cretan diet has the lowest death rate from heart disease," said Dr Itsiopoulos.
"The diet is abundant with plant food and low in meat fat, and can be very simple and easy to implement".

Research has also shown marked improvement in condition amongst those who suffer type two diabetes.

" After three months on a Cretan diet the participants found not only had their blood glucose levels improved but also general well being; they report an increase in mood and energy as well as looking healthier" said Dr Itsiopoulos.

" The staple fat in a Mediterranean diet for thousands of years has been olive oil, it is a monounsaturated fat so helps to improve the balance of good and bad cholesterol. Whilst extra virgin olive oil is rich in anti-oxidants,"
" We are currently working on new studies to see the effects of a Mediterranean diet on depression and reversing fatty liver, which leads to diabetes" said Dr Itsiopoulos.

Based on the recent research study Dr Itsiopoulos has listed ten "key principles" for following obtaining the benefits of a "Mediterranean style diet" while consuming either Mediterranean or other cooking styles or traditions. The resulting ten tips for healthy eating are:

10 tips for healthy eating
  1. Use olive oil as the main added fat (60 mls/day)
  2. Eat vegetables with every meal (include 100g leafy greens and 100g tomatoes, and 200g other vegetables/day)
  3. Include at least two legumes meals (250g serve) per week
  4. Eat at least two servings of fish (150-200g serves) per week and include oily fish
  5. Eat meat (beef, lamb, pork and chicken) less often and not more than once per week
  6. Eat fresh fruit everyday and dried fruit and nuts as snacks or dessert
  7. Eat yoghurt everyday but cheese in moderation
  8. Include wholegrain breads and cereals with meals
  9. Consume wine in moderation (1-2 glasses per day) and always with meals, don't get drunk
  10. Only have sweets or sweet drinks for special occasions.

These general principles can be followed regardless of the specific style or tradition of cuisine. However, they will not suit everyone because the above is not specifically vegan or even vegetarian. For anyone consuming animal products (items 4. and 5. in the list), be sure to source them with animal welfare considerations in mind.

Source(s): La Trobe University, Melbourne (Australia).

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