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The Mediterranean Diet

I was really excited a few weeks ago when some results came out from a large and well designed study on the Mediterranean Diet, so I wanted to share with you a little bit about the diet and health benefits that can come from being on it.  Lindsay has prepared some tasty looking Mediterranean dishes including atomato stuffed with quinoa, hummus, a salad, and sofrito over pasta to accompany this discussion.

tomatowithquinoa

The Mediterranean Diet is the traditional diet eaten in the Mediterranean:  Greece, Spain, southern Italy, and Morocco, and gained popularity in the United States in the 1990s as a diet that could help reduce heart disease despite its relatively high fat content.  Until recently, however, no major well-designed study on this diet had been done to provide conclusive evidence that it actually worked.  The New England Journal of Medicine published this study on March 3, 2013 and the results were so strong that they stopped the study before it was finished to switch all of the patients in both groups to the Mediterranean diet.   The patients in this study were at high risk for developing heart disease, but had not developed it yet.  At the end of the study, the group on the Mediterranean diet were  30% less likely to develop heart  disease as compared to the control group.  These results are as good as those for drugs while being affordable and in control of the patient.  

So what exactly do people on the Mediterranean diet eat?  These were the recommendations given to the people in this study.  

Foods to eat:

Lots of olive oil in cooking and dressings

At least 2 large servings of vegetables (not side dishes) including one salad (raw vegetables) every day

2-3 servings of fruits a day

3 servings of beans a week

3 servings of fish or seafood a week

at least 1 serving of nuts or seeds a week – walnuts were emphasized

white meats (chicken and rabbit) in place of red or processed meats

2 servings a week of dishes with sofrito (tomato, garlic, onions,  herbs, with olive oil)

1 glass of wine with meals (for people who drink alcohol already)

Foods that could be eaten if desired:

eggs

low-fat cheese

dark chocolate (greater than 50%)

whole grains

Foods to avoid altogether:

cream

butter and margarine

lunch meat, pate, duck

sodas and sugary beverages

pastries

processed bakery foods – cakes, cookies, donuts

processed desserts – puddings, custards

french fries and potato chips

desserts not made at home

Foods to mostly avoid (1 serving or less a week):

Cured Ham

Red meat (fatty parts trimmed)

Fatty and cured cheeses

So does this prove that the Mediterranean Diet is the best diet and we should all be on it?  Not exactly…  This diet was compared to what amounted to the standard diet most people currently eat.  So, the Mediterranean Diet is better than most people’s current diet, but compared to other diets like vegetarian, vegan, the DASH diet, etc., we do not know one way or another.  Hopefully after such great results  with this study, more studies like this will be funded.  

 Quinoa Stuffed Tomato

I can’t wait to try this recipe, that can be found on Lindsay’s blog.  

NutritionLabel - stuffedtomato

Quinoa Pasta with Sofrito

As I mentioned above, people in this study were encouraged to eat sofrito, or tomatoes cooked with olive oil, garlic, and onions at least twice a week.  Lindsay made a sofrito here.  

Pastawithsofrito

 NutritionLabel - sofritoquinoa

 Salad with a Poached Egg

Salads were a daily requirement on the diet mentioned above, so Lindsay prepped a tasty looking salad.  

image (5)

NutritionLabel - mediterraneansalad

 Spicy Hummus with Cilantro and Lime Juice

I love hummus, and with beans emphasized on this diet, this is a great way to eat them.  I’ve made plain hummus before myself, but never tried anything like this.  Lindsay’s hummus with cilantro and lime juice recipe can be found here.   It sounds pretty yummy to me!   My label didn’t get the portion size on it, but portion size was meant to be 1/4 cup.  Try dipping some fresh veggies into it to make this an even more nutritious snack!

NutritionLabel - hummus

 I thought I would mention too, our posts on magnesium – the halibut and the salad would also work on the Mediterranean diet!  Also, did you notice the similarities in foods encouraged on the Mediterranean diet, and foods that are high in magnesium???

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