Healing or Hype – The Truth Behind the Mediterranean Diet
I can't begin this post without sending a Happy Birthday to the Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid. It turns out it has reached a milestone birthday this year celebrating 25 years. Who even knew there was such a celebration? I guess if there were a celebration of diets to be had, the Mediterranean diet is worthy to be celebrated as it boasts of life-saving benefits and keeping us a little lighter. And who doesn't want to keep a few extra pounds at bay? Also, as a certified Nutritional Counselor, I always have my ear to the streets for the "next" and "best" in nutrition information.
This plan was birthed on the heels of the USDA's first food pyramid which was released in 1992. Our country was in an uproar and running scared over the impending health crisis that is now our reality. Birthed out of the International Conference on the Diets of the Mediterranean a conference held January 23, 1993, the US began to apply other strategies and take note of cultural traditions that were cultivating a healthier society.
What is the Mediterranean Diet
So let's get on the same page about the Mediterranean Diet. According to the Harvard Health Publication and Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History, this diet is inspired by the eating habits of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain in the 1940s and 1950s. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of non-fish meat products.
Now that we know what this diet is, what is all the hype about olives, its extra virgin oils, and fish? We found out that the hype is apparently about your heart. A John Hopkins Study showed that the Mediterranean Diet:
1. Keeps your cholesterol at a healthy level.
2. Keeps the arteries flexible.
3. Reduces inflammation.
4. Aids in blood sugar absorption.
Okay! This is some pretty good hype, right? Especially since these four areas often plague those with lifestyle diseases like type-2 diabetes and hypertension, especially Black women. So what has this plan proven over the last 25 year? Well, the proof is in the hype and really does have healing powers for more than your heart.
Two major findings
1. It is the best diet for Heart Health. The main ingredient is olive oil. Olive oil has Omega-3 which causes blood to flow easier. And the antioxidants found in olive oil fight free radicals which reduces the speed of aging.
2. It has what some may call Healing Power for the Brain. According to the Cleveland Clinic scientist believe that the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents found in the recommended foods coupled with other agents counteract oxidative processes in the brain. As a result, "there is a rising belief that diet will have a significant effect in preventing dementia."
BONUS – This diet lowers the risk of cancer. And the healthy olive oil keeps your skin glowing.
So the hype is actually healing too. After 25 years this diet plan, or what I like to call Lifestyle change has been highly effective in changing the course of people's lives. And one of the best parts of this plan is the food is delicious. 10 of my favorites are:
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
5. Feta Cheese
If you are interested in trying the Mediterranean Diet, check out Dr. Axe's article here.
Have you tried the Mediterranean Diet in the past? Let me know in the comment section below.