The Mediterranean diet is all about healthy eating and incorporates the basics of healthy and fresh food among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. A traditional Mediterranean diet consisting of large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil-coupled with physical activity. It is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. A new research conducted by the University of Barcelona finds that consuming a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetable fats such as olive oil or nuts does not lead to significant weight gain compared to a low-fat diet. The findings showed that fats from nuts, fish and phenolic-rich vegetable oils found in the Mediterranean diet are healthier than fats from meat and processed foods. "Our study shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetable fats had little effect on bodyweight or waist circumference compared to people on a low-fat diet," said lead author Ramon Estruch.
However, the fear of eating an all fat diet means that a low-fat diet continues to be recommended as a means of weight loss, the researchers said. "The study certainly does not imply that unrestricted diets with high levels of unhealthy fats such as butter, processed meat, sweetened beverages, deserts or fast foods are beneficial," Estruch added.
For the study, published in 'The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology' journal, the team included 7447 participants (men and women) aged 55-80 who were randomly assigned to one of three groups - an unrestricted calorie Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil (2543), an unrestricted calorie Mediterranean diet rich in nuts (2454), or a low-fat diet where the advice was to avoid all dietary fat (2450).
After five years, the low-fat diet group (from 40 per cent to 37.4 per cent) showed a decrease in the total fat intake and both Mediterranean diet groups (40 per cent to 41.8 per cent in olive oil; 40.4 per cent to 42.2 per cent in nuts) showed slight increase.
The percentage of energy intake from protein and carbohydrate decreased in both Mediterranean diet groups. On average, participants in all three groups lost some weight with the greatest weight loss seen in the Mediterranean diet with olive oil group (0.88 kg weight reduction in the olive oil group, compared to 0.60 kg for the low-fat diet group and 0.40 kg for the nuts group).
"Calorie-obsessed caveats and warnings about healthier, higher-fat choices such as nuts, phenolic-rich vegetable oils, yoghurt should also be dropped. We must abandon the myth that lower-fat, lower-calorie products lead to less weight gain," commented Dariush Mozaffarian, Professor at Tufts University in the US, in a linked article.According to Banglaore-based Nutritionist Dr. Sheela Krishnaswamy "Advantages of a Mediterranean diet is the fact that mainly vegetables, olive oil and fish are included in the diet, use of red meat and deep fried food is limited which makes it easier to maintain your health and even your weight."
With inputs from IANS