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Mediterranean Diet Most Healthful

A comprehensive review of the world's literature, covering research in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 1966 to 2008, shows that eating a Mediterranean Diet prolongs life and helps to prevents heart attacks, cancer, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (British Medical Journal, September 2008).

The combined studies included more than 1.5 million people followed for up to eighteen years. The reviewers analyzed total diet, rather than individual components of diet, because "the analyses of single nutrients ignore important interactions between components of a diet and because people do not eat isolated nutrients."

The Mediterranean diet contains abundant amounts of fruits, vegetables (including olives), whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, fish, and up to two glasses of red wine a day. It does not include red meat and has only small amounts of dairy products (cheese).

In studies analyzing single components in the diet, eating red meat is associated with premature death, heart attacks, strokes, at least 23 different cancers, and arthritis. Not eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts is associated with the same diseases. The more different vegetables you eat, the longer you live. Fish eaters live longer than people who do not eat fish.

It is sad that the Western Diet has reached Greece, where three-quarters of the adult population is overweight and the incidence of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis approaches that found in North America. The Mediterranean populations are sacrificing their health to the convenience and taste of "fast food" instead of following their traditional diet.

Maestro, A., Terdoslavich, M., Vanzo, A., Kuku, A., Tramer, F., Nicolin, V., Micali, F., Decorti, G., Passamonti, S. (2010). Expression of bilitranslocase in the vascular endothelium and its function as a flavonoid transporter. Cardiovasc Res 85: 175-183

Buckland, G., Gonzalez, C. A., Agudo, A., Vilardell, M., Berenguer, A., Amiano, P., Ardanaz, E., Arriola, L., Barricarte, A., Basterretxea, M., Chirlaque, M. D., Cirera, L., Dorronsoro, M., Egues, N., Huerta, J. M., Larranaga, N., Marin, P., Martinez, C., Molina, E., Navarro, C., Quiros, J. R., Rodriguez, L., Sanchez, M.-J., Tormo, M.-J., Moreno-Iribas, C. (2009). Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in the Spanish EPIC Cohort Study. Am J Epidemiol 170: 1518-1529

Scarmeas, N., Luchsinger, J. A., Stern, Y. (2009). Diet, Exercise Habits, and Risk of Alzheimer Disease--Reply. JAMA 302: 2431-2432
Akbaraly, T. N., Brunner, E. J., Ferrie, J. E., Marmot, M. G., Kivimaki, M., Singh-Manoux, A. (2009). Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. Br. J. Psychiatry 195: 408-413

Esposito, K., Maiorino, M. I., Ciotola, M., Di Palo, C., Scognamiglio, P., Gicchino, M., Petrizzo, M., Saccomanno, F., Beneduce, F., Ceriello, A., Giugliano, D. (2009). Effects of a Mediterranean-Style Diet on the Need for Antihyperglycemic Drug Therapy in Patients With Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Trial. ANN INTERN MED 151: 306-314

Sansbury, L. B., Wanke, K., Albert, P. S., Kahle, L., Schatzkin, A., Lanza, E., the Polyp Prevention Trial Study Group, (2009). The Effect of Strict Adherence to a High-Fiber, High-Fruit and -Vegetable, and Low-Fat Eating Pattern on Adenoma Recurrence. Am J Epidemiol 170: 576-584

Romaguera, D., Norat, T., Mouw, T., May, A. M., Bamia, C., Slimani, N., Travier, N., Besson, H., Luan, J., Wareham, N., Rinaldi, S., Couto, E., Clavel-Chapelon, F., Boutron-Ruault, M.-C., Cottet, V., Palli, D., Agnoli, C., Panico, S., Tumino, R., Vineis, P., Agudo, A., Rodriguez, L., Sanchez, M. J., Amiano, P., Barricarte, A., Huerta, J. M., Key, T. J., Spencer, E. A., Bueno-de-Mesquita, H. B., Buchner, F. L., Orfanos, P., Naska, A., Trichopoulou, A., Rohrmann, S., Kaaks, R., Bergmann, M., Boeing, H., Johansson, I., Hellstrom, V., Manjer, J., Wirfalt, E., Uhre Jacobsen, M., Overvad, K., Tjonneland, A., Halkjaer, J., Lund, E., Braaten, T., Engeset, D., Odysseos, A., Riboli, E., Peeters, P. H. M. (2009). Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet Is Associated with Lower Abdominal Adiposity in European Men and Women. J. Nutr. 139: 1728-1737

Feart, C., Samieri, C., Rondeau, V., Amieva, H., Portet, F., Dartigues, J.-F., Scarmeas, N., Barberger-Gateau, P. (2009). Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet, Cognitive Decline, and Risk of Dementia. JAMA 302: 638-648
Knopman, D. S. (2009). Mediterranean Diet and Late-Life Cognitive Impairment: A Taste of Benefit. JAMA 302: 686-687 [Full text] Trichopoulou, A., Bamia, C., Trichopoulos, D. (2009). Anatomy of health effects of Mediterranean diet: Greek EPIC prospective cohort study. BMJ 338: b2337-b2337

Brantsaeter, A. L., Haugen, M., Samuelsen, S. O., Torjusen, H., Trogstad, L., Alexander, J., Magnus, P., Meltzer, H. M. (2009). A Dietary Pattern Characterized by High Intake of Vegetables, Fruits, and Vegetable Oils Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Preeclampsia in Nulliparous Pregnant Norwegian Women. J. Nutr. 139: 1162-1168

Ghali, W. A, Rodondi, N. (2009). HDL cholesterol and cardiovascular risk. BMJ 338: a3065-a3065

Rosengren, A., Perk, J., Dallongeville, J. (2009). CHAPTER 12 Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. ESC Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine 2008

Better Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet Lowers Risk for Death and Disease. JWatch General 2008: 5-5

Checked 5/15/17

May 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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