The Mediterranean diet — which emphasizes things like fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish — has long been promoted as a healthy approach to eating. A major new study, published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, provides even more reasons to eat like an Italian, Spaniard or Greek. Among the findings: people on a Mediterranean diet had a 30 percent lower risk of major cardiovascular problems compared to people who followed a low-fat diet.

Cesar Molina, cardiologist at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, spokesman for the American Heart Association and co-founder of the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital
Rita Redberg, cardiologist and professor of medicine at UCSF Medical Center
Dean Ornish, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at UCSF
Gina Kolata, science reporter, New York Times

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    How might the Mediterranean diet’s emphasis on fish consumption factor into the troubled condition of worldwide seafood stocks?

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    For a few decades we have known that the Mediterranean way of eating is best. My question is why do so few Americans eat this way?

    We have eaten this way for years and not only are our grocery costs lower, we eat smaller servings because we are satisfied with less, and get an A+ when we do the yearly doctor check up.

  • shilpa

    If olive oil and nuts are shown to be positive, is a vegetarian diet comprising of olive oil, nuts, low dairy intake and plenty of fruits and vegetables but fish in the form of fish oil supplements as good as the mediterranean diet in lowering CVD risk?

  • anita smull

    What about the amazing studies from Caldwell Esselstyn in which people who had no other options for survival started eating vegan no fat at all including no oils, dairy and their heart disease reversed? My husband has had 2 heart attacks we were on vegetarian diets for 10 years which included good oils ad needed a triple bypass last year. we are both following Esselsyns diet since then and our lipid numbers are unbelievably low. after you have you chest craked open you absolutely NEVER want to have that done again! Yes, sticking with this diet is a challenge but you really get used to it. It requires more time in the kitchen but the food is truely delicious!
    By the way, Esselstyn allows wine but no nuts if you have heart disease currently.

  • My husband has stage b heart failure. He has dilated cardiomyopathy. Would following this diet religiously Make a difference for his heart health, on top of the medications that he takes? By the way, we Do not drink alcohol so wine cannot be part of this diet For us.

  • MrsB

    Diets have to make sense in the context of culture, environment and geography. I worry about asking people to adopt a diet that requires special food that comes from far away. The Med diet is not just about what you eat but how it fits into the mediterranean culture–food is local, olives are nearby, fish is from the local waters. Local beliefs about life and food and community probably have alot to do with health outcomes too. I am able to eat a Med diet in California but people in Texas or Denver need their own plant based, whole food diet that connects them to the economy, food production and lifestyle in their locales. Touting Mediterranean foods just primes the food industry to capitalize on marketing “mediterranean” foods–just think how Greek yogurt has become a huge market with products that barely resemble the real thing. This ends up putting the public right back where we started.

  • Mood_Indigo

    As a immigrant American with Bengali roots, I’ve always felt there are common healthy components of both the Mediterranean diet and the classic Hindu Bengali diet. As part of our Bengali food at home, we eat fish at least 4 times a week, daily lentils in various forms of daal (moong, masur, matar, etc.), and one vegetable curry. We have supplemented the Bengali cuisine with a large salad (or steamed veggies) and wine. One day a week, we have pasta. At work, I have a large jar of mixed nuts for munching as snacks.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    How does sugar and the insulin response factor in? I am thinking of Dr Robert Lustig’s work where he states that sugar is the major culprit behind our nation’s explosive obesity rates.

    His scientific theory is that sugar drives up insulin secretion. Insulin triggers the body to either use sugar as fuel or store it as fat, and argues that all this sugar is more likely to end up as fat, especially in the liver.

    Also that insulin blocks a hormone called leptin, which signals to the brain when the body needs more or less energy. A lack of leptin tells the brain that the body doesn’t have enough energy, which sets off efforts to increase and preserve fuel. In other words, it makes people want to eat more and move less.
    Any comments, doctors?

    • erictremont

      An excellent summary of Dr. Lustig’s work. I recommend his latest book (also available in audio format) to anyone who wants to understand how sugar consumption is linked to the obesity epidemic.

  • John Tweed

    It seems to me that the Mediterranean diet is unsustainable if everyone chooses to adopt it. Or are we only concerned about extending the lives of the wealthy? Maintaining the Spanish Mediterranean diet almost destroyed the North Sea & North Atlantic fishing stocks until the EU enforced quotas. Unfortunately for the poor fishermen of Senegal, the EU did a deal with their government that allowed the same reckless overfishing by EU based fishermen in Senegalese waters. Now the Senegalese fishermen are destitute and the people of West Africa cannot afford to buy fish. Which poor South American country do you recommend plundering to keep Californians supplied with their Mediterranean diet?

    • thucy

      you are so right. god bless you for caring about something beyond yourself. I gave up fish years ago because of overfishing.

  • Chris OConnell

    Sorry, I am not going to have any fish. Wine and chocolate and twice as much fruit and vegetables? Sure.

  • dewm

    Study shows we need fats, pretty simple. Read the Perfect Health Diet or Deep Health, actually there are so many out now that it’s hard to believe they still hold to the idea that no fat/low fat diet is good for you.

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      it is not hard to eat fat. atkins diet is whacko.

      • dewm

        Atkins isn’t what I’m talking about. Just read more.

  • Anne Pagenhart

    I follow a low fat diet on the recommendation of my primary doctor. I had a healthy diet before, but my cholesterol levels and blood pressure were steadily rising, and gene testing put me at risk (APOE 4). The low fat diet has reduced my cholesterol and blood pressure, but it is bear to follow. Really hard! After nearly a year, I still crave fat every second of my waking day. And I would imagine that many would find it simply impossible to live like this. Listening to Dr. Ornish, I found him to be defensive and I think incorrect in his assumption that prescribing doctors would up front tell their patients that this diet is so hard to follow that they might as well not even try. Comments on its difficulty come from observation. I am going to reintroduce more fat to my diet as I worry that my greatly lowered HDL levels (everything lowered when I dropped fat from my diet) may be a health issue. And just to head incorrect assumptions off at the pass, I am not talking about introducing red meat and butter into my diet, but nuts, avocados and olives.

  • acaps

    It appears that one critical factor is adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet – fish, nuts etc. The other is getting a nutrient rich diet by including raw fruits and vegetables. Could it be that adding the right stuff is more important than subtracting the wrong stuff? It is certainly easier. It is easier to start eating nuts and dark chocolate than to start exercising and remove all refined sugars from the diet.

  • bcowart

    In my opinion, the most important factoid went mentioned, but not discussed: I think the interviewee said a recent study found a 47% reduction in heart attacks in the group that learned and practiced Transcendental Meditation. (Not all forms of meditation are the same or have the same health benefits.) That’s a huge percentage, and the practice, in my experience, has numerous other benefits, emotionally as well as mentally.

  • I always eat this way. A typical evening meal for me is an entire bunch of lacinato kale (blanched, sauteed or raw – all with olive oil) as a side for dinner with pasta, homemade marinara (with garlic, onions, olive oil), pasta and bread, followed with red wine and dark chocolate (dairy free).

    I’m vegan, so I don’t eat any dairy (allergic anyway) or meat. I can’t tolerate legumes in their natural form (though I love them, they don’t love me) so settle for cultured and fermented alternatives like tofu, tempeh and miso. My cholesterol is very low and I have very good health (aside from occasional sports injuries).

    People who don’t consider themselves vegetarian are always amazed at the diversity in my diet — a friend who was visiting this weekend was surprised by the lack of packaged food in my refrigerator and freezer.

  • Photo Recipe

    I´m glad to read news like this. Today olive oil is one
    of the most popular edible oils worldwide both for its nutritional value
    as for its high gastronomic qualities. Its high content of unsaturated
    fatty acids, vitamin E, natural antioxidants and other nutrients make
    medical science considers as one of the healthiest. Besides, there are many studies showing the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on weight control, cancer prevention breast, cerebro-vascular accidents, from heart attacks and anaemia, among other diseases. The Mediterranean diet besides being varied and balanced nutritional intake, is rich in fiber, unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. More than a diet, is said to be a way of life, which to generate a positive effect obviously be combined with moderate exercise daily.

    I invite you to learn more about the Mediterranean diet by visiting: goo.gl/I5FKH


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