The Mediterranean Diet’s Great for Health, But Is That All?
The Mediterranean diet which comprises fruits, nuts, whole grains, veggies and fish is said to have several health benefits.
The Mediterranean diet which comprises fruits, nuts, whole grains, veggies and fish is said to have several health benefits. (Photo: iStock)

The Mediterranean Diet’s Great for Health, But Is That All?

Mediterranean diet has been gaining currency in the recent times with studies hinting at its various physical and mental health benefits. It is being increasingly touted as the heart-friendly diet plan with research claiming that the traditional Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet has been declared as one of the healthiest diets in a recent study by the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of the I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed, in Molise, Italy. The study concludes that the diet reduces the mortality risk of elder people (over 65 years of age) by 25 per cent.

Snapshots of various headlines from different publications point at the benefits of mediterranean diet.
Snapshots of various headlines from different publications point at the benefits of mediterranean diet.
(Photo: Rhythum Seth/FIT)

A lot has been said about the numerous health benefits of the mediterranean diet, whetting our appetite all the more.

What Is The Mediterranean Diet?



(Pyramid Source: Oldways, Harvard School of Public Health and the WHO)
(Pyramid Source: Oldways, Harvard School of Public Health and the WHO)
(Photo: Rhythum Seth/FIT)

Mediterranean diet calls for a greater emphasis on consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, nuts, whole grains, fish and poultry while turning a blind eye to refined carbohydrates and processed sugar. High on unsaturated fats, the Mediterranean diet discourages intake of refined grains found in sweets and dissuades people from consuming red meat and white rice.

But this doesn’t mean that the Mediterranean diet eliminates proteins and carbs. On the contrary, it encourages a healthy blend of carbs, proteins, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.

The presence of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet is partly responsible for its healthy attributes, according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Experts suggest that for the Mediterranean diet to fetch maximum results, one has to combine it with healthy lifestyle and regular exercise.

What Are the Health Benefits?

A study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 claims,

A Mediterranean diet with either olive oil or nuts may reduce the combined risk of a stroke, heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease.

A study published in the Diabetes Journal in 2011 says,

A Mediterranean diet without calorie restriction appears to be effective in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes.

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2008,

A Mediterranean diet may be more effective for weight loss and improving symptoms of diabetes, when compared to a low-fat diet.

We got in touch with Dr Pooja Sharma of www.drpoojasharma.com, a nutritionist and lifestyle expert from Powai, Mumbai to shed some light on the Mediterranean diet. According to her,

The Mediterranean diet is helpful in providing well-balanced nutrition with weight reduction. It provides complete nutritional balance and helps increase metabolism and required nutrient cycles of carbohydrates, protein and fat

Experts and research are on the same page as far as the health benefits of mediterranean diet are concerned. But is that all there is to it? Apparently, not.

Also Read: These 5 Diseases Are On the Rise, Here’s How to Fight Them

What’s the Catch?

Though the Mediterranean diet is usually lauded for its health properties, a recent study claims otherwise. According to the new research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, health benefits of Mediterranean diet may be well restricted to the rich and well-educated.

Sounds bizarre, right?

Researchers attribute the result to the quality of food and method of cooking, both of which are influenced by one’s socio-economic status.

We also found that higher-SES (socioeconomic) subjects tend to consume more organic vegetables which can contain higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower concentrations of cadmium and a lower incidence of pesticide residues, as compared to conventionally grown foods.

Dr Pooja Sharma agrees. She says, “the diet consists of lean meat, olive oil and fruits which inevitably makes it too expensive for all income groups”.

So what’s the verdict on the mediterranean diet? Though experts and research unequivocally stand by the health benefits of the diet, the fact that it is expensive cannot be overlooked.

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