Dear readers: Many posts on this site discuss different aspects of a healthy diet and mostly emphasize the importance of balanced, versatile and flexible but
healthy food choices, whether you are staying put or travelling.
This pattern of eating could be named in different ways and many have heard of the so called Mediterranean diet, which is in fact exactly that – a variety of good foods arranged in a flexible manner throughout the day.
The most recent and very exciting results came out of one Spanish trial just a few days ago, proving without a shadow of a doubt, the benefits of this ‘Mediterranean’ eating style.
These Spanish results are very important because the study was a randomized control trial, considered to be the gold standard of any medical research.
Back in 2003, the researchers recruited almost 7500 Spaniards to take part in the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) trial.
All study participants were over 55 years old, and up to that point, none had been diagnosed with heart disease—though all were at high risk for developing it.
Participants were divided into 3 groups: 2 groups were advised to adopt the Mediterranean style diet with just some minor variations of olive oil and nuts intake per week and one group was advised to adopt a low-fat diet.
The results were impressive: there was a significant reduction in heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean groups compared to the low-fat group. (3 fewer cardiovascular events per 1000 people per year in the Mediterranean groups!)
All study participants were almost identical in everything except diet, proving that the observed results were likely directly related to what these people were eating.
This study clearly shows that a flexible healthy eating beats any strict/restrictive diet.
The PREDIMED volunteers were given a list with broad guidelines, which promoted everything but restriction – use this list to create your own combination of recipes that will protect your health and likely improve it.
Here is that list:
- olive oil: use abundantly for cooking and dressing dishes
- vegetables: at least two to three servings
- fruits: at least two to three daily servings
- beans: three or more weekly servings
- fish or seafood: three or more weekly servings
- nuts or seeds: at least one serving a week
- choose poultry instead of red meats or processed meats
- cook at least twice a week with tomato, garlic, and onion
- moderate alcohol intake (for those who drink alcohol)
- eat as desired: nuts, eggs, fish or seafood, low-fat cheese, chocolate (only black chocolate, with more than 50% cocoa), and whole-grain cereals.
- limit or eliminate: cream, butter, margarine, red meat, sugared beverages, pastries, bakery products (such as cakes, donuts, or cookies), pre-made sweets and desserts, French fries or potato chips, cured or fatty cheeses.
As a special ingredient add some moderate physical activity every day and quite smoking and you’ll have a perfect tool for a healthy life.
Yours in health,