The Latest Diet Research—and It’s Good For You Too!
We are always on the search for the latest diet—either to lose weight or to gain health. It’s tough to do either one. Everyone wants to be healthy (and happy). But we have to struggle with our habits—at least with the bad ones! And, it always seems that there is conflicting evidence about what is healthy. It keeps changing.
I’m no different than anyone else in this quest. Like many other adults, I have gained and lost tens of pounds over the years. And, my family is rife with heart disease, so I have to be careful about what I eat, in addition to how much I eat.
Low carb, high carb, no carbs, high protein, and low fat---It’s hard to keep up with the latest craze.
There is a recent study, which did catch my eye, reported in The New York Times (February 25, 2013). The New England Journal of Medicine cited a study that found that the “Mediterranean Diet” could reduce heart attacks, strokes, and death in high-risk individuals by 30%. Wow! We have been hearing about this diet for several years, but now a very well done study demonstrates that this diet can improve our health! —Especially if you are in a high risk group (family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.).
The results of the study were so definitive, that they ended the study early because it would have been unethical to have the control group continue to eat their regular diets! The diet helped subjects even if they didn’t lose weight or if they were already taking medication to lower their cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits, vegetables, and even red wine (in moderation) with meals. I hope you like lentil soup! (I do!). Scientists randomly assigned 7,447 people who had risk factors for heart disease into two groups—eating the Mediterranean Diet or a low-fat diet.
The main components of the Mediterranean Diet were to eat at least three servings a day of fruits, two servings of veggies, fish three times a week, legumes (peas, beans, or lentils) three times a week or more, white meat instead of red, and for those that were used to drinking, to have wine with some meals. They were discouraged from eating dairy (cheese and milk), processed meats, or commercially made sweets.
The subjects assigned to the Mediterranean diet stuck with it, but those that were assigned to the low fat did not lower their fat intake much. Low fat diets are difficult to follow. So the study compared those eating the Mediterranean diet with the usual modern diet.
There was a statistically significant decrease in the manifestations of heart disease in the Mediterranean diet group compared to the control group. It also happened startlingly quickly.
I asked Jody Byrne, Registered Dietician, at The Everett Clinic to share her thoughts about this study. Jody is a certified Diabetes Educator too! Here is what she thinks— “Nutrition is a relatively young science and we are still learning so much. This does make it confusing for consumers trying to make sense of the latest report. How encouraging when a large study confirms and validates a diet that we have been promoting for more than a couple of decades”.
So next time you belly up to the dinner table enjoy eating a meal rich with fish, veggies, beans, and fruit. And feel free to enjoy a glass of wine too!
What do you think? Would this diet be hard for you?
Interested in learning the latest in healthy eating and weight loss? Cheryl Beighle M.D is conducting an 7 week program at The Everett Clinic. Visit http://everettclinic.com/classes for more information.