5 myths about the Mediterranean diet

When you think of Mediterranean food, you probably imagine pizza and pasta from Italy and hummus from Greece.

However, these dishes do not fit into any healthy eating plans advertised as “Mediterranean.”

The truth is that the Mediterranean diet consists mostly of fruits and vegetables, seafood, olive oil, grains and other foods that help against cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, diabetes and cognitive decline.

After World War II, a study led by Ansel Keys of the Mayo Foundation looked at the eating habits and health status of nearly 13,000 middle-aged people in the United States, Japan, Italy, Greece (including Crete), the Netherlands, Finland, and Yugoslavia .

Remarkably, well-nourished American men had more cardiovascular disease than those in countries whose diets were restricted by wartime privations.

Men on the island of Crete, perhaps the poorest participants in the study, were the healthiest. This is due to physical labor and their unique food pyramid.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the food traditions of the island of Crete, Greece and southern Italy. These areas have the lowest rates of chronic disease in the population in the world, and the life expectancy of adults is among the highest.

But we are still not completely familiar with the Mediterranean diet and there are many misconceptions about it. What are the five biggest myths?

Myth 1: The Mediterranean diet is expensive

Fact: If you cook dishes with beans or lentils as your main sources of protein, vegetables and whole grains, then the Mediterranean diet is more cheap from meat dishes, cheese and processed foods.

Myth 2: If a glass of wine helps the heart, the effect of three glasses is triple

Fact: Moderate amounts of red wine (one drink a day for women, two for men) certainly have unique benefits for heart health, but consuming too much wine has the opposite effect. More than two glasses of wine can even damage the heart.

Myth 3: Eating pasta and bread is the Mediterranean way of eating

Fact: Mediterranean people don’t usually eat huge plates of pasta like Americans do. Instead, pasta is usually a side dish about 1/2 to 1 cup in volume. The rest on the plate are salads, vegetables, some meat, a slice of bread.

Myth 4: The traditional Mediterranean diet makes you lose weight

Fact: People who live on the Greek islands do not enjoy good cardiovascular health just because of food. They climb steep hills, work in the garden, take care of their animals. Physical work plays a big role.

Myth 5: The Mediterranean diet is only about food

Fact: Food is a huge part of the diet, yes, but don’t overlook the Mediterranean lifestyle.

When they eat, they don’t sit at the desk or in front of the TV, they don’t eat quickly under stress, but they do it calmly and casually, in the company of other people. It’s just as important to your health as what’s on your plate.

Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

The traditional Mediterranean diet consisting of large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil combined with physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

This is because the diet is high in fiber, it does not include processed foods and red meat, and it also encourages drinking red wine instead of hard alcohol.

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