Eating a Mediterranean diet can lower the risk and development of certain health conditions such as heart attacks and strokes, according to recent studies from the University of Cambridge.
The study performed on the UK population, calculated there was an 11% reduction risk in those who ate a Mediterranean diet as opposed to those who were on a different kind of diet.
The benefits of eating a low saturated fat diet which is high in fruits and vegetables has been extensively studied, although there have been less studies into a culture unfamiliar with this way of life.
The study’s lead author, Dr Nita Forouhi, from the Medical Research Council Epidemology Unit at Cambridge University stated that “Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and adopting a Mediterranean diet while respecting local eating habits” is highly recommended.
Although the study’s authors didn’t investigate any factors that might make it easier or more affordable to follow a Mediterranean diet. The authors also noted and recognised that various cultural, economic and social factors are at play that may encourage people or put them off.
The Mediterranean Diet may help people who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and prevent further attacks, according to the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Switching to a fruit and vegetable heavy diet may be highly beneficial for people living in the UK as cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes around 155,000 deaths or on average, more than a quarter of all deaths each year. This is estimated to have extensive healthcare costs of around €12.5bn (£11bn) per year. Researchers looked at 23,902 healthy individuals in the EPIC-Norfolk prospective cohort study. Using food frequency questionnaires, dietary habits were collected and individuals were contacted, over approximately 12 to 17 years. The Mediterranean dietary pyramid used by the team had a 15 point score and this was adapted to define a Mediterranean diet.
The participants observed 7606 separate events of CVD and 1714 CVD deaths within the study population. These findings suggest that a Mediterranean diet based on the dietary pyramid, had the strongest associations with cardiovascular outcomes, according to the study.
Further estimations showed that there was a 3.9% total CVD incidence, 8.5% of IHD or stroke incidence, and 12.5% of CVD mortality within the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. All of these figures could have been avoided by adhering to the Mediterranean diet.
Findings suggest that adhering to a Mediterranean diet can contribute to effectively preventing CVD cases within the UK. The study is observational, but previous trials within Mediterranean countries have shown that there is a casual effect between CVD and the Mediterranean diet.
The study provides further evidence that adopting a Mediterranean diet is one of the best lifestyle strategies to prevent CVD, along with improving health. Especially when other lifestyle factors such as physical activity and avoiding smoking are taken into account.
Some studies believe that they can’t prove a casual link or show various aspects of the diet, i.e. consumption of saturated fat, higher consumption of vegetables and grains, high consumption of olive oil, etc. Yet the study’s lead author Dr Nita Forouhi, stated that it was the overall combination of various components of the Mediterranean-type diet which make it highly beneficial for improving health. When one aspect or component from the Mediterranean diet was removed, then the overall results were unchanged.
Eating a Healthy Mediterranean Diet
Anyone who follows a really healthy lifestyle will understand that by taking the time to focus on their diet and including plenty of green leafy vegetables, dark-skinned fruits, nuts and legumes, they can experience considerable improvements in their general health. All of these foods are found predominantly within the Mediterranean Diet.
The Mediterranean diet and lifestyle avoids many unnatural and highly processed foods that are commonly found in the West. This includes all starchy carbohydrates and grains commonly found in breads, cereals, pasta, etc. These foods are highly inflammatory and can be triggering for a wide range of health conditions. While avoiding grains is highly recommended for best health, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on taste. In fact there are many healthier alternatives available that can be used to replace whole grains and this includes Organic Oats, Sprouted Buckwheat Flour and Legume pasta.
Buckwheat, oats and legumes can be used in a wide variety of recipes including porridge, bread, pasta, pizza, noodles, pancakes and other forms of baking including cakes. When these foods are made with a healthier alternative such as Oats, Buckwheat and Legumes, then all of these traditional recipes become much healthier – and filled with vital nutrients that the body needs.