New research backs up the hypothesis that Mediterranean diets can lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even breast cancer.
For years, fats have been demonized by health experts. Some experts suggest to either removing specific foods entirely from people’s daily habits or lowering the amount ingested. However, it has been proven that a certain degree of fat is required for the body’s well-being. Fats help absorb certain soluble nutrients, produce hormones, manufacture cell walls and provide essential fatty acids as well as being the biggest source of energy of the body.
The “fat hate” encouraged the myths surrounding many healthy foods. Remember when we all hated eggs because of their cholesterol? It turns out they are very beneficial, alongside other vilified foods such as coconut and dairy products.
A new study has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine which analyzed data for fifty-three previous studies that investigated the health effects of the Mediterranean diet.
The team was led by Dr. Hanna Bloomfield from the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, and they used the stronger source of data available: clinical trials. In these trials, patients were assigned a Mediterranean diet made specifically for them or one of the diets that restrict fat intake. Their health measures were recorded over time.
The research concluded that those under the Mediterranean diet had a 30% reduced risk of getting diabetes, a 29% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 57% lower risk of developing breast cancer that the other participants. However, Dr. Bloomfield clarifies that more research needs to be done regarding the breast cancer lower risk since only one randomized trial was used.
She claimed, “I don’t think the evidence is strong enough yet for anyone health group to come out with a proclamation.”
The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society got in the wagon, regarding the heart disease and cancer lower risk, also noting further research needs to be done. Even though it has not been confirmed, the most recent Dietary Recommendations for Americans advised citizens to consume more olive oil, fish and vegetables, staples in the Mediterranean diet.
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How do I begin the Mediterranean diet?
First of all, you have to remember than the ‘fats’ we refer to in this article (and were mentioned in the study) is not the one included in fried foods, but the so-called right facts. The Mediterranean diet has a lot of these healthy fats, which include nuts and olive oil. Fruits, vegetables, seafood, and grains are also advised.
Tip #1: Never use margarine
Instead of using margarine, replace it with healthy oils and fats as often as you can. These oils and fat include butter, coconut oil, canola oil, walnut oil and the staple of the Mediterranean diet: the olive oil. All of them are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Regarding butter, use only the organic version. For coconut and olive, use only high-quality extra-virgin oils. You can couple them with balsamic vinegar for dressing your salads. The recommended serving size of any oil is one tablespoon. For butter, use a teaspoon.
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Tip #2: Diverse your proteins
This means more seafood and less red meat. Also, include chicken and turkey, eggs are okay too. Remember that “protein” doesn’t necessarily mean meat. Mushrooms and beans contain protein too.
Fatty fish, especially tuna or salmon are recommended since they are rich in omega-3s. You don’t have to cut red meat entirely, just choose a lean cut, like sirloin, flank steak, strip steak or top loin.
The recommended serving size of any meat is roughly the size of your palm, and it should fill just a quarter of your plate.
Tip #3: Make vegetables your principal source of calories
A big bowl of green salad, vegetable soup, spinach in your omelet, roasted or grilled vegetables is all valid examples including these in your diet.
The recommended serving size is 1/2 to 2 cups. Vegetables should fill half of your plate.
Tip #4: Switch processed carbohydrates to whole-grain
Forget about white bread! This means only to use whole-grain rice, pasta or bread. Include barley, quinoa, oatmeal or even (unsalted) popcorn that serves as a snack.
The recommended serving size for pasta and rice is roughly the front of your clenched fist. Carbohydrates should fill a quarter of your plate.
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Tip #5: Healthy snacks!
Use seeds, nuts, cheese or diary instead of a bag of Cheetos. Snack a handful of sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds. You can also use fruits and other healthy fats. For example, consider an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter.
Tip #6: Make sure you consume plenty fruit!
Fruits can be you staple dessert. You can sprinkle an apple with cinnamon of a pear with honey. Use strawberries, blueberries or blackberries with Greek yogurt.
If you want to have the occasional ice cream, a clenched fist equals two servings.
Tip #7: Red wine is your friend!
Individuals who drink red wine moderately are often associated with lower risk of heart disease, apparently by raising HDL cholesterol.
Stick to red or white wine, and no more than two glasses at dinner.
Tip #8: Take your time to savor your food
Don’t eat while watching TV or being on the laptop. Instead, get your time to eat slowly and enjoy your food. This allows your brain to figure out you are eating, which will prevent you from over-eating.