A pasta dish that's packed with protein instead of simple carbohydrates?
Mediterranean Diet In a Day For Dummies
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The supermarket spaghetti bolognese does not count. The Mediterranean diet has no preservatives.
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It is freshly picked, plucked and cooked. Aubergines or tomatoes in oil — you can have enough of that quite quickly.
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But there is more to the Mediterranean diet than the food on the plate. Unesco waxes wistfully lyrical on a whole idealised lifestyle that may appear to have little to do with the modern Mediterranean as we know it. Shared family meals, it is now widely understood, help people eat well and avoid excess, while the TV dinner habit is linked to obesity.
Keys, a Minnesota academic, started to investigate the health benefits of Mediterranean eating in the s, after a visit to Naples. He was concerned about the large numbers of men dying from heart attacks in the US. An Italian colleague had told him that the heart attack rate among labourers in the Neapolitan area was low.
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It led to the Seven Countries Study , an enormous project that continues today. The first pilot studies were set up in Nicotera, a village in Calabria, southern Italy, and in six villages on Crete. The study compared middle-aged men with different lifestyles and diet: It uncovered a link between eating high levels of saturated fat, found in red meat and dairy products, and cholesterol in the blood, and heart disease. The scientists could not prove that saturated fats were the cause, but the finger of suspicion was firmly pointed, leading to changed dietary guidelines in the US and the eventual craze for low-fat everything, with the resulting rise and rise of sugar to make processed food and drinks taste better.
Keys has more recently been heavily criticised for opposing John Yudkin, who argued in the s that sugar, not fat, was the problem. What did not happen as a result of the study was the wholescale adoption of the Mediterranean diet, although Keys, who died aged in , promoted it in popular books and practised what he preached. David, a debutante, adventurer and lover of the Mediterranean sunshine, had an influence with her articles and books, describing dishes with aubergines, courgettes and other exotica that were all but unavailable in northern Europe in the s and 60s.
But the era of convenience food and the sheer quantity that became available, whether in supermarkets or from takeaways, had a greater impact on working populations. Nonetheless, Sanders says northern Europe is generally healthier than the Mediterranean regions.
What actually is the Mediterranean diet – and does it work?
And these guys, particularly in Crete, which was looked at, were pretty active and were quite thin. The equivalent of Colonel Sanders really. Both countries had higher rates than the US and Mexico. Studies continue to show the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. In June, the respected Predimed study in Spain found that overweight and obese people, with heart disease and diabetes, who ate a Mediterranean-style diet high in vegetable fat, because of additional olive oil or nuts, did not gain weight, compared with people on a low-fat diet.