Mediterranean diets encompass a diverse range of eating patterns based on the traditional
diets of the Mediterranean region. They are often found in places that are
associated with healthier lifestyles, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and increased
longevity, such as in the Blue Zones, e.g., Ikaria, Greece; and Ogliastra Region,
Sardinia. They include both plant and animal foods. Foods that are emphasized
include olive oil, vegetables, fruits, whole-grain breads, and cereal foods, nuts
and seeds, beans and legumes, selective dairy intake; often fish and other seafood;
and quite limited consumption of meat. In some countries, consumption of moderate
amounts of alcohol in the form of wine is a feature of Mediterranean diets.
The New Nordic diet is predominantly plant-based and very similar to the Mediterranean
diet except for the regional choices of a differing spectrum of healthy fruits,
vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
The Mediterranean diet has been found to have favorable effects on a wide variety
of the biomarkers associated with cardiovascular health, including blood cholesterol
levels, insulin resistance, and the metabolic syndrome. Reduced progression
of cardiovascular disease, preserved cognition, and possibly reduced risk of cancer have been attributed to a Mediterranean diet.
The Lyon Diet Heart Study found a 50% to 70% reduction in the risk of recurrence
of CVD events or deaths from all causes. In an 11-year study among elderly
men and women, higher levels of compliance with both the DASH (a mixed and
balanced diet) and Mediterranean dietary patterns were associated with better cognitive
function. Whole grains and nuts and legumes appear to be among the plant-based
foods positively associated with brain health.
A study among nurses over about 15 years found that an Alternate Mediterranean
diet was associated with “healthy” aging defined as no major chronic diseases or
major impairments in cognitive or physical function or mental health.292 An even
longer 26 year follow up of the Nurses’ Health Study found that the risk of sudden
cardiac death (deaths that make up about half of all heart attack deaths) was about
half among those with the highest scores on the Alternate Mediterranean diet which
emphasizes high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish
and moderate intake of alcohol.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel,