Mediterranean Eating

August 31, 2020

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Chargrilled mediterranean vegetable pasta dish
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Eating Pattern Series

This week I'm covering an eating pattern that has an interesting history: Mediterranean! Because of this, I've added a history section to share more about this eating pattern. 

The History: Eating Mediterranean may not be what a lot of people think it is. Unfortunately, it does not exclusively promote eating pizza and pasta and drinking wine. It actually emphasizes eating the way that poorer communities in southern Italy and Greece would have eaten in the early 1960s. Why so specific? This is because of the American scientist, Ancel Keys. During the 1960s, Keys launched the Seven Countries Study, suggesting that there was a possible correlation between diet and cardiovascular health. He thought of his theory after noticing that wealthier people living in New York City had poorer health than the Mediterranean-region immigrants living in poor communities in New York City. This launched the study which looked at the typical eating patterns of those living in Greece, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Finland, and the United States. Participants would report what they ate, and over time, their cardiovascular health was measured regularly. Towards the end of the decades-long study, researchers were able to conclude two things with ground-breaking evidence. First, that higher blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking are all universal risk factors for coronary heart disease. Secondly, those who had the healthiest heart outcomes over time were those from the Mediterranean region (Italy and Greece). 

The Basics: For eating Mediterranean, there is a special emphasis on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes (beans), potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and olive oil. Poultry, eggs, cheeses, and yogurt are all emphasized in moderation. Red meat should only be consumed rarely. Additionally, sugary beverages, processed meats, added sugars, refined grains, refined oils, and highly processed foods are all discouraged. 

Around The World: Globally, this way of eating is most common in the Mediterranean region, along with other parts of Europe. This way of eating has gained popularity in the United States in the past few decades. 

Pros: With an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, there will be a high consumption of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This can improve both immune and gut health. 

Cons: Those living in cooler climates may have trouble accessing fresh produce during the fall and winter seasons. Additionally, with a heavy emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and grains it may be more time consuming to cook and prepare foods especially for those with busy schedules. 

Potential Health Benefits: Eating Mediterranean is known for improved long term cardiovascular health. People who eat Mediterranean also reap the potential benefit of weight loss and better controlled blood sugar levels.

Recipe: Try this delicious recipe for chargrilled Mediterranean vegetable pasta. This recipe only calls for a few ingredients and would be a fun one to make on a Friday night. 

Resources To Learn More: Check out The Complete Mediterranean Diet by Michael Ozner to learn more about eating Mediterranean! 

Be on the lookout for the last eating pattern that will be covered next week, pescatarian! 

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