For years we have heard that the Mediterranean Diet, a form of nutrition modeled after the food habits of those living along the Mediterranean, improves health and well-being. In reality things aren’t as rosy.
Is It Healthy?
Even a meta analysis published in the renowned British Medical Journal came to the conclusion that this diet plan, mainly consisting of vegetables, fruits, and legumes, as well as moderate amounts of healthy fats and red wine, reduces the risk of dying from cancer and lowers the chances of developing cardiovascular, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
But a study published in January found that things aren’t as simple: The Internal Medicine Department of the Carlos Haya Hospital in Malaga, Spain, examined 2270 adults for cardiovascular risk factors. 60% of these were obese, 65% had high cholesterol levels, 33% suffered from high blood pressure and 7% were found to have diabetes.
Rate of Heart Disease Similar in Spain and US
All in all and at least for the subjects of this study, the risk of coronary disease was as high as in the US and actually higher than in Great Britain – two countries often cited as examples of bad eating habits.
The study’s leader, Dr. Ricardo Gómez-Huelgas, also told press agency ANI that “cardiovascular diseases account for 33% of deaths in Spain, making it the main cause of mortality in the country.”
Was it a Fad Diet?
There is a simple explanation for this discrepancy between the earlier positive and now negative scientific findings of this style of nutrition: The main cause for cardiovascular disease is obesity. And no matter how healthy the ingredients of your food are, eaten in excess they will make you gain weight.
In healthy quantities the Mediterranean diet may very well be superior to other forms of nutrition, but going Mediterranean is no excuse to gorge yourself in food, even if it’s olive oil and legumes.
Picture courtesy of “yeah chià!“.