The paper confirms, “a Mediterranean diet rich in ‘healthy fats’ (such as those found in olive oil, eggs, nuts and fatty fish) might lower your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.” Dr. Hanna Bloomfield (lead author of the paper) also noted, “I was not surprised because the literature on which this study was based has been out there for a while.”
From a personal standpoint, I’ve been a huge advocate of the Mediterranean Diet for quite some time. Interestingly enough, I never based it on any type of scientific research.
For me, it’s more of a fascination with the way of life in the area. It’s almost as if you can feel (and see) that something’s different on the Mediterranean coasts, as opposed to the inland regions of countries like France, Spain, and Italy (for example). It’s similar to the way American’s notice a difference between Southern California or South Florida, and the rest of the country.
Honestly speaking, I haven’t spent enough time in the Mediterranean to expand on this hunch, but I do pick up a few things from my boss (a wonderful woman). She travels to Greece a couple times a year, and when she comes back, she glows (literally).
The Rise of Unsaturated Healthy Fats:
Contrary to popular belief, certain types of fats are no longer the enemy. Saturated fats are still as unhealthy as ever, but unsaturated healthy fats are quite the opposite. For most of the 90’s, low-fat diets were all the craze, but this way of life wasn’t necessarily productive. Fast-forward to today and obesity is at an all-time high, along with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Foods made up of unsaturated healthy fats include:
- Red meats
- Fatty fish (wild-caught salmon)
- Whole milk products
- High fat fruits (avocados, olives)
- Nuts & seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Foods made up of unhealthy saturated fats include:
- Secondary meats (sausage, bacon, ribs)
- Fried potatoes (french fries, potato chips)
- Most desserts
- Regular cheese
Because of the stigma associated with fats (in general), many people may still be afraid of a diet that doesn’t restrict fat intake. But understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats is a good place to start when trying something new.
Best of the Mediterranean Diet:
In my opinion, some of the best Mediterranean Diet foods include:
- Avocados – Nothing beats a good Avo Smash (smashed avocado on toast) these days.
- Greek yogurt – Mixed with granola and/or raw honey is an unbeatable breakfast.
- Coconut oil – Can be used to replace butter or other oils in several dishes.
- Grass-fed lamb – Lamb is the staple red meat of the Mediterranean Diet. Every culture does lamb different, and it’s ALL good.
- Hummus – Recently discovered Dizengoff, you should too if you live in New York or Philly.
- Lentils – The Lebanese lentil dish Mujadara is one of my absolute favorites.