More evidence that the Mediterranean diet is good for you

The Mediterranean diet is back!

You've heard it before from Oprah's in-house physician, Dr. Mehmet Oz, that the Mediterranean diet can make you lose weight fast.

Actress Penelope Cruz swears that only the Med diet helped her lose the excess weight she gained during pregnancy.

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What is the Mediterranean Diet, anyway?

It started way back in 1945 in Italy but only gained popularity in the 1990s when the "craze" reached America.

MedDiet, as everyone calls it, promised rapid weight loss without sacrificing food content and quality.

Olive oil is the focus of the MedDiet which is a common item found on the dining tables of people from Greece, Italy and Spain. Other foods included in the MedDiet are: legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, vegetables, fish, dairy (mostly cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption and small portions of meat.

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What else can this miracle diet do?

Aside from weight reduction, numerous previous studies have proven the effectivity of the Mediterranean diet in lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

This diet also claims to decrease early death rates by 50%, reduce risk of heart disease by 30% and lower blood sugar levels in a large study involving 535,000 subject in 2011.

As if lowering the risk of a heart attack and diabetes was not enough, scientists have further proven that the Mediterranean diet can also lower the risk of stroke.

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Results of study

Dr. Dolores Corella of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Valencia, Spain, conducted a study on 8,018 men and women to determine the effects of the MedDiet on the prevention of heart disease and stroke.

All patients enrolled already had diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, obesity and may or may not have been smokers.

The volunteers were randomly divided into two: group A received a diet consisting mainly of olive oil and mixed nuts while group B was on a low-fat diet, meaning less dairy, less meat and less oil, in general.

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No stroke or heart attack

During the 5-year observation period, there were 262 heart attacks and 130 strokes. And, as you and I would expect, all of the cases occured in the low-fat diet group.

None of the subjects in the MedDiet group suffered a major attack despite starting out as unhealthy individuals.

In fact, even after discontinuing the high olive oil and mixed nuts diet, there was still some protective effect of this healthy MedDiet to prevent future illness in the observed population.

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What to eat on MedDiet

Here is a summary of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid from the Mayo Clinic. Serving sizes are from the WebMD website.

MONTHLY

4 servings red meat per month

(1 serving = the size of a a deck of cards)

WEEKLY

3 servings sweets, potatoes and eggs per week

(1 serving of potatoes = the size of a computer mouse)

4 servings olives, beans (hummus), nuts and poultry per week

6 servings fish per week

(1 serving of fish and poultry = the size of a deck of cards)

DAILY

2 servings dairy (cheese and yogurt) per day

(1 serving of cheese = the size of your thumb)

3 servings fruit per day

6 servings vegetables per day

(1 serving of fruit and veg = the size of your fist)

8 servings whole grain bread (pita, foccacia, roti), pasta, brown rice, unrefined cereals and grains ( couscous, polenta, quinoa) per day

(1 serving of rice = ½ cup; 1 serving of pasta = one scoop of ice cream)

Unlimited servings of olive oil per day

2 glasses red wine per day

6-8 glasses water per day

Exercise daily


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