Tag Archives: Mediterranean Diet

Tufts on the Mediterranean Diet

Among the dietary patterns specifically recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is the Mediterranean-style diet, which has been linked to reduced risks of heart disease and cognitive decline.

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A healthy Mediterranean-style diet includes many of the same key ingredients found in MyPlate for Older Adults. The chief difference between a Mediterranean-style diet and other healthy-eating plans is the emphasis on unsaturated fats found in plant foods, especially monounsaturated fat in the form of olive oil. All healthy diets recommend limiting foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy, minimizing added sugar, and avoiding processed foods.

Eating More Like a Mediterranean

To move your diet in a Mediterranean-style direction, try these suggestions:

1 Eat plenty of vegetables.
Try a simple plate of sliced fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, or eat salads, garlicky greens, fragrant soups and stews, or oven-roasted medleys.
2 Change the way you think about meat.
If you eat meat, have smaller amounts – small strips of sirloin in a vegetable saute, for example – or substitute skinless chicken breast or fish for red meat in a few meals each week. Continue reading

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Mediterranean diet could reduce osteoporosis – Study

Eating a Mediterranean-type diet could reduce bone loss in people with osteoporosis – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

New findings show that sticking to a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals, olive oil, and fish can reduce hip bone loss within just 12 months.

vegetable salad with wheat bread on the side

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The study is the first long-term, pan-European clinical trial looking at the impact of a Mediterranean diet on bone health in older adults.

More than 1,000 people aged between 65 and 79 took part in the trial, and volunteers were randomized into two groups – one which followed a Mediterranean diet and a control group which did not.

Bone density was measured at the start and after 12 months. The diet had no discernible impact on participants with normal bone density, but it did have an effect on those with osteoporosis.

People in the control group continued to see the usual age-related decrease in bone density, but those following the diet saw an equivalent increase in bone density in one part of the body – the femoral neck. This is the area which connects the shaft of the thigh bone to its rounded head, which fits in the hip joint.

UK study lead Prof Susan Fairweather-Tait, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “This is a particularly sensitive area for osteoporosis as loss of bone in the femoral neck is often the cause of hip fracture, which is common in elderly people with osteoporosis.

“Bone takes a long time to form, so the 12-month trial, although one of the longest to date, was still a relatively short time frame to show an impact. So the fact we were able to see a marked difference between the groups even in just this one area is significant.”

The EU-funded trial, led by the University of Bologna, was completed by 1142 participants recruited across five centers in Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland and France. Those following the Mediterranean diet increased their intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals, olive oil, and fish, consumed small quantities of dairy products and meat and had a moderate alcohol intake.

People in the intervention group were provided with foods such as olive oil and wholemeal pasta, to encourage them to stick to the diet, and were also given a small vitamin D supplement, to even out the effects of different levels of sunlight on vitamin D status between the participating countries.

At the start and end of the trial, blood samples were taken to check for circulating biomarkers. Bone density was measured in over 600 participants across both groups at the lumbar spine and femoral neck. Of these participants, just under 10% were found to have osteoporosis at the start of the study.

Co-researcher from UEA, Dr Amy Jennings said: “Although this is a small number it is sufficient for the changes in femoral neck bone density between the two groups to be statistically significant.

“Those with osteoporosis are losing bone at a much faster rate than others, so you are more likely to pick up changes in these volunteers than those losing bone more slowly, as everyone does with age.

“With a longer trial, it’s possible we could have picked up changes in the volunteers with normal bone density. However, we already found it quite challenging to encourage our volunteers to change their diet for a year, and a longer trial would have made recruitment more difficult and resulted in a higher drop-out.”

The researchers would now like to see a similar, or ideally longer, trial in patients with osteoporosis, to confirm the findings across a larger group and see if the impact can be seen in other areas of the body. If the condition could be mitigated through diet, this would be a welcome addition to current drug treatments for osteoporosis, which can have severe side effects.

But in the meantime, say the researchers, there is no reason for those concerned about the condition not to consider adapting their diet.

“A Mediterranean diet is already proven to have other health benefits, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer,” said Prof Fairweather-Tait. “So there’s no downside to adopting such a diet, whether you have osteoporosis or not.”

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Pasta not fattening study reports

Good news for Italian food lovers everywhere! Research from I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, shows that, unlike popular beliefs, pasta consumption does not contribute to obesity; on the contrary: it is associated with a decrease in body mass index.

In recent years pasta gained a bad reputation: it will fatten you. This led lots of people to limit its consumption, often as part of some aggressive “do it yourself” diets. Now a study conducted by the Department of Epidemiology, I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, does justice to this fundamental element of the Mediterranean diet, showing how pasta consumption is actually associated with a reduced likelihood of both general and abdominal obesity.

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A typical bowl of pasta amounts to more than a single serving.

The research, published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, examined over 23,000 people recruited in two large epidemiological studies: Moli-sani and INHES (Italian Nutrition & Health Survey), conducted by the same Department. “By analyzing anthropometric data of the participants and their eating habits – explains George Pounis, first author of the paper – we have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight, rather the opposite. Our data show that enjoying pasta according to individuals’ needs contributes to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio.” Continue reading

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10 Totally Awesome Ways to Stay Healthy – Infographic

In the nearly nine years I have been writing this blog, I have come to realize something very important. Although losing weight is a subject on which many people focus, the real trick is staying healthy. I think the reason 60 percent of us are overweight and another 30 percent are obese is because most people focus on the wrong thing. I was overweight for years and the reason is that I wanted to eat as much as I could and not gain weight. That is a prescription for failure. You don’t have a negative aim. Once I got my focus on staying healthy the pounds just melted off. I ate intelligently, both quantity and quality, and made sure I got my exercise daily. You can do the same. There are some super suggestions here.

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Mediterranean Diet: A Heart-healthy Eating Plan

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

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The heart-healthy Mediterranean is a healthy eating plan based on typical foods and recipes of Mediterranean-style cooking. Here’s how to adopt the Mediterranean diet.

If you’re looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you. The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps even a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet remain tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.

Benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million…

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Diets High in Fruit, Vegetables, Whole Grains and Nuts Lower Stroke Risk

Mediterranean-style diets are generally low in dairy products and DASH-style diets emphasize low-fat dairy products.

Avoiding secondhand smoke also lowers stroke and heart attack risks, according to the guidelines.

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Eating Mediterranean or DASH-style diets, regularly engaging in physical activity and keeping your blood pressure under control can lower your risk of a first-time stroke, according to updated AHA/ASA guideline published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

“We have a huge opportunity to improve how we prevent new strokes, because risk factors that can be changed or controlled — especially high blood pressure — account for 90 percent of strokes,” said James Meschia, M.D., lead author of the study and professor and chairman of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

The updated guidelines recommend these tips to lower risk:

  • Eat a Mediterranean or DASH-style diet, supplemented with nuts.
  • Monitor high blood pressure at home with a cuff device.
  • Keep pre-hypertension from becoming high blood pressure by making lifestyle changes such as getting more physical activity, eating a healthy diet and managing your weight.
  • Reduce the amount of…

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Children Consuming A Mediterranean Diet Are 15% Less Likely to be Overweight

The team found that children with a high adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet were 15% less likely to be overweight or obese than low-adherent children. The findings were independent of age, sex, socioeconomic status or country of residence.

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A study of 8 European countries presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO)in Sofia, Bulgaria, shows that children consuming a diet more in line with the rules of the Mediterranean one are 15% less likely to be overweight or obese than those children who do not.

The research is by Dr Gianluca Tognon, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues across the 8 countries: Sweden, Germany, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Belgium, Estonia and Hungary.

The researchers used data from the IDEFICS study (Identification and Prevention of Dietary – and lifestyle – induced health effects in Children and infantS), funded by the European Commission. Weight, height, waist circumference, and percent body fat mass were measured in children from these eight countries.

Vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish

The parents of these children were interviewed by means of a questionnaire specifically designed for the IDEFICS study and enquiring about the consumption frequency…

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How Processed Foods Hinder Weight Loss

In the war of the waistline there are many skirmishes and outright battles. We win some and we lose some. Hopefully, on balance, more of the former and less of the latter. The battle is waged over a long period of time. Besides calorie consumption and exercise, there are other variables that enter into the equation, including genetics, sleep, stress and just the difference in individual bodies.

processed foods

I have been fortunate in that the mathematical part has worked out fairly consistently and predictably for me, but I know that for many folks, they hit a plateau and can’t seem to penetrate it. They can starve themselves and still not get through.

Now comes a fascinating piece from the New York Times entitled Always Hungry? Here’s Why.

For me, the most important part of the article was the following two paragraphs:

As it turns out, many biological factors affect the storage of calories in fat cells, including genetics, levels of physical activity, sleep and stress. But one has an indisputably dominant role: the hormone insulin. We know that excess insulin treatment for diabetes causes weight gain, and insulin deficiency causes weight loss. And of everything we eat, highly refined and rapidly digestible carbohydrates produce the most insulin. My emphasis

“By this way of thinking, the increasing amount and processing of carbohydrates in the American diet has increased insulin levels, put fat cells into storage overdrive and elicited obesity-promoting biological responses in a large number of people. Like an infection that raises the body temperature set point, high consumption of refined carbohydrates — chips, crackers, cakes, soft drinks, sugary breakfast cereals and even white rice and bread — has increased body weights throughout the population.” Continue reading

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Study Further Illuminates Heart-Healthy Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

“We undertook this study to understand the correlation between consuming a Mediterranean diet and specific health markers, including platelet levels and white blood cell counts, which can more specifically explain the diet’s benefits in reducing the long-term risk of cerebral and heart disease or other chronic conditions,” said lead study author Marialaura Bonaccio, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo NEUROMED in Italy.

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New research further illuminates the heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet, tying the eating plan to lower levels of platelets and white blood cells, two markers of inflammation. Inflammation has an association with greater risk of heart attack and stroke. Study results are published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

The Mediterranean diet, characterized by generous servings of foods such as greens, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, has long been hailed as a heart-healthy eating plan. While the link between the diet and a reduction in inflammation has been established, the connection between the eating plan and levels of platelets and white blood cells, two specific inflammatory markers in the body, has remained unclear. Specifically, high platelet counts are associated with both vascular disease and non-vascular conditions such as cancer, and a high white blood cell count is a predictor of ischemic…

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Both Mediterranean Diet and Diets Low in Available Carbohydrates Protect Against Type 2 Diabetes

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New research shows that a Mediterranean-style diet and diets low in available carbohydrates can offer protection against type 2 diabetes. The study is published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), and is by Dr Carlo La Vecchia, Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy, and colleagues.

The authors studied patients from Greece who are part of the ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC), led by Dr. Antonia Trichopoulou, from the University of Athens. From a total of 22,295 participants, actively followed up for just over 11 years, 2,330 cases of type 2 diabetes were recorded. To assess dietary habits, all participants completed a questionnaire, and the researchers constructed a 10-point Mediterranean diet score (MDS) and a similar scale to measure the available carbohydrate (or glycaemic load [GL]) of the diet.

People with an MDS of over 6 were…

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How Much is Too Much Salt?

A recent study by the Institute of Medicine questioned the current guidellnes on salt intake saying they were too high.

The guidelines issued by the government say that adults should reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2300 mg. For those over age 51, or with a medical condition like diabetes or hypertension, salt intake should fall below 1500 mg.
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The American Heart Association puts the limit at 1500 mg per day for the entire population.

Dr. Marc Seigel, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, said on Fox News today that he doesn’t know anyone who consumes less than 3000 mg per day and they all consume too much salt. In addition, most people get the majority of their salt from processed and restaurant food. Continue reading

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What Can I Do To Reduce My Chances of Heart Disease?

Back in January I wrote What Are My Chances of Getting Heart Disease enumerating the risk factors we all have for this number one killer of human beings. We are all vulnerable but we can control many of our risk factors through proper diet and exercise.

Dr. Stephen Devries, Executive Director of The Gaples Institute of Advanced Medicine, speaking before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program®, explained how very little medical practicioners know about nutrition. Dr. Devries’s background includes over 20 years of experience as a university based preventive cardiologist with formal training in integrative medicine. He is spearheading a program at Northwestern Memorial to bring doctors up to speed on this important aspect of health care.

Centers for Disease Control statistics report that heart disease causes almost 25 percent of the deaths in the U.S. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Dr. Devries said that the saddest thing about these statistics is that 80 percent of heart disease is preventable. He said that while statin drugs reduce heart disease by 34 percent, the Mediterranean Diet reduced it by 72 percent.
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Mediterranean Diet Linked to Slower Mental Decline – Tufts

Researchers compared the eating habits and mental abilities of nearly 4,000 older Midwesterners. Participants’ diets were scored for adherence to a traditional Greek diet, and cognitive performance was tested every 3 years. Even after adjusting for other lifestyle factors, those with higher “MedDiet” scores suffered slower cognitive decline over time, according to the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Newsletter.

The Mediterranean Diet is rich in vegetables and fruits

Although there’s no single true “Mediterranean diet”—people in Tunisia eat differently from those in, say, Greece—certain common components of the region’s diet have previously been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Scientists looked for:
• High intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish and cereals
• High intake of unsaturated fatty acids but low intake of saturated lipids
• Low intake of dairy products, meat and poultry
• Mild to moderate alcohol consumption
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