The Mediterranean diet is an umbrella term for eating foods commonly found in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Staples include olives, olive oil, fish, feta cheese, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, chickpeas, and spices (think garlic, rosemary, cinnamon). But what was the origin of this diet? Why did people suddenly decide that they were going to eat this way? And most importantly, does it work?
The Original Mediterranean Diet Study
The original study was conducted by a group of Italian scientists in 1959. They compared people eating a traditional Mediterranean diet to those who ate a more modern diet. What they found was that those who ate more traditional meals had lower rates of cardiovascular disease. Companies jumped on the results and started to market the “Mediterranean Diet.”
Exercise is Key!
Unfortunately, many people who swear by this diet ignored several important factors in the original study. For one, the group who ate traditional diets also exercised a lot. They would walk at least 15-20 kilometers a day, along with eating a plant-based diet. Second, while there are health benefits to olive oil and cheese, it’s not because they are from the Mediterranean. They’re healthy because they are less processed than the stuff in our American grocery stores.
While the Mediterranean diet does emphasis eating fresh foods, it’s important to remember that without exercise, even olive oil can clog your arteries. The best diet, no matter what you call it, should include fresh, unprocessed foods, very little (if any) refined sugar and lean meats. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle by choosing to do outdoor activities instead of sitting around the house watching Netflix.