Is Horse Meat on the Mediterranean Diet?
Unfortunately for Ikea and some schools in Europe, horse meat is not on the Mediterranean diet.
Many other foods are, though, and according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, eating a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with red wine, helped those at high risk for cardiovascular problems avoid heart trouble better than those eating a low-fat diet.
In the study, participants on a Mediterranean diet that emphasized either olive oil or nuts had a 30% greater reduction in relative risk of a heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.
The results were determined to have a “moderate-to-high benefit” and mirrored those from previous research.
So why does the Mediterranean diet seem to boost heart health?
The combination of good quality fats, both monounsaturated (e.g. olive oil) and omega 3 (e.g. nuts and fish), along with phytonutrients found in vegetables and fruits, effectively reduce inflammation – an underlying factor in many chronic conditions.
What about diet and pain?
There is strong evidence linking diet to inflammation and pain.
A marker of inflammation commonly looked at in studies correlating diet to pain is a protein called HS-CRP. This protein level has been found to predict the risk of diabetes and other inflammatory conditions.
In a Mediterranean diet, the nutrients such as magnesium, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, flavanoids, and carotenoids have been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory effects.
A decrease in inflammation means a reduction in pain, along with a reduction in the risk of developing certain chronic diseases.
Sample Mediterranean meal plan:
■ Greek-style yogurt with fruit (e.g. berries) and a small handful of raw nuts. Coffee or tea.
■ Handful of mixed nuts (e.g. walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia)
■ Grilled fish, chicken or beef with vegetables. Green salad with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
■ Hummus or white bean dip with vegetables (e.g. carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers)
■ Chicken or lamb souvlaki with Greek salad. Glass of red wine.