Though we may not like to admit it, obesity, heart disease, and our health in general is most definitely linked to our diets. What we eat not only affects how we feel, grow, and live, it also affects the expression of certain negative genetic traits (3)(4)(5).
So when the Mediterranean diet began making the rounds in the health and diet world, it immediately caught my attention. Could a traditional diet increase vitality, health, and lower the risk of heart disease or other medical conditions? Do we now have a reason to eat more Greek salads, olives and hummus?
In 2008, a meta-analysis of 12 studies, with a total of 1,574,299 subjects was published in the BMJ (6). The researchers carefully and systematically analyzed 12 studies with cohorts from the Mediterranean and elsewhere around the world and studied the effects of adhering to a Mediterranean diet. Their primary goal was to investigate the relationship between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and mortality and chronic diseases.
The results were excellent if you’re fond of tabouleh and red cabbage. The meta-analysis found that a greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant improvement in overall health: 9 percent reduction in overall mortality, 9 percent reduction in mortality from cardiovascular diseases, 6 percent reduction in incidence of or mortality from cancer, and a 13 percent reduction in incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. These numbers are big news and further support a Mediterranean diet as a form of primary prevention of major chronic illnesses.
For those who are new to the Mediterranean diet, here’s a quick snapshot of what it includes (7): vegetables (broccoli, pumpkin, beets, arugula, artichokes), fruits (apples, apricots, avocados, peaches, oranges, pomegranates), olives and olive oil, nuts, beans, legumes, yogurt, fish and shellfish (shrimp, squid, mackerel, mussels, octopus, sardines, oysters), eggs, meats (in smaller portions), and a glass of red wine a day.