In a major study in the 1960s, researchers looked at the diets of different countries and the rate of heart disease in these locations. They observed that people in Mediterranean countries seemed to have lower rates of heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet is based on:
- Plant-based meals with large amounts of vegetables and smaller amounts of meat and chicken.
- Larger servings of grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and legumes
- Obtaining high amounts of fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients
- An abundant supply of fish and other seafood -- rich in omega-3 fats
- Olive oil as the main source of monounsaturated fat
- Wholesome ingredients that are fresh and simply prepared
- Flavorful meals
- Dining with others at a leisurely pace
Foods that are decreased in the Mediterranean diet include:
- Red meats
- Sweets and other desserts
Overall, a Mediterranean diet is lower in carbohydrates and higher in monounsaturated fat than a typical American diet. Following such a diet might lead to better blood sugar control, as well as lower triglycerides and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (5/13/2010)
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