A Mediterranean diet may protect against breast cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular events
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that centers around plant foods (vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nuts), and elevates specific food choices, such as seafood and olive oil, over others (meats, dairy products and other fats or oils). The researchers combined the results from 56 different studies to see if this way of eating was healthy, even if it was not “low fat.” To do this, the researchers found out what people ate and kept up with them for one or more years. They found that people who ate a Mediterranean diet had a risk of diabetes that was 30% lower, a risk of heart disease and stroke that was 29% lower, and a risk of breast cancer that was 57% lower than individuals who had other dietary patterns. In addition, men and women who followed Mediterranean diets had a 14% lower chance of dying from cancer.
What does this information mean to you, or how can you use it?
A big focus of the Mediterranean Diet is the substitution of various “healthy fats” for fats that are not so healthy. Therefore, instead of eating butter or using corn oil, a switch to olive oil and foods like nuts, seeds and avocados is recommended. Plus, these fats should be consumed against the backdrop of a diet that has plenty of vegetables and whole grains, and limited amounted of meat and dairy foods.
Note that the Mediterranean diet does not give you a free license to eat lots of fat or put half a cup of dressing on your salads, but it does mean you probably don’t need be on an exceptionally low fat diet to be healthy. Rather than focusing on food product labels that try to sell you the health benefits, buy more of the foods that are fresh and sell themselves by being colorful and delicious: fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, whole grains and fish. Legumes are high in protein and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. If you have a sweet tooth, plan to have fruit for dessert or keep fruit and vegetables nearby if you need a snack. The fiber in these foods will keep you feeling full longer and provide your body with the nutrients it needs.