While a Mediterranean-style diet probably stands above all other diets based on sheer taste alone (not to mention the wine), it's not without its drawbacks. While the American Heart Association recognizes some benefits of this diet, it stops short of giving the Mediterranean Diet its official blessing, calling instead for more research.
One valid concern about the Mediterranean Diet is that people may just adopt heavier consumption of olive oil into their diets, but not make other changes.
It's interesting to note one of the original studies that shed light on the benefit of this diet. In the 1960s, people living on the Greek island of Crete were found to have greatly reduced rates of heart disease when compared to their American counterparts. After studying the issue, it became apparent that a Mediterranean-style diet was the deciding factor. However, since that time, Cretans have been shifting toward a more Westernized diet that's high in saturated fats. As this has occurred (and as their rate of exercise decreased), the Cretans' rates of heart disease began to more closely resemble those of their American peers.
Despite maintaining elements of a Mediterranean-style diet (which, around the Mediterranean, is an unavoidable feat), the benefits of doing so were largely nullified by the simultaneous presence of Western eating habits.
What this means is that adopting only part of the Mediterranean Diet may not be beneficial when we're still frequently eating fast-food hamburgers and potato chips laden with trans fats.
Additionally, eating bowls of nuts and breads drizzled in olive oil can make keeping up with how many calories you're consuming a near impossible feat, and too much of even the "good" fats is going to make you, well, fat.
Furthermore, alcohol isn't a good option for everyone, and it has its own health risks and concerns. While it may yield benefits to those with strong sense of restraint, having more than a glass of wine a day probably isn't going to be too good for your health in the long run.
Talk to your doctor or a dietician to learn if this diet is right for you. For lots more information on the Mediterranean Diet, see the next page.
- American Heart Association. "Lyon Diet Heart Study." (April 27, 2011)http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4655
- Blackburn, Henry. "On the Trail of Heart Attacks in Seven Countries." University of Minnesota School of Public Health. 1999. (April 27, 2011)http://www.sph.umn.edu/epi/history/sevencountries.asp
- Burros, Marian. "Eating Well." The New York Times. March 29, 1995. (April 27, 2011)http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/29/garden/eating-well.html
- Kovacs, Jenny Stamos. "Popular Diets of the World: The Mediterranean Diet." WebMD. January 2007. (April 27, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-mediterranean-diet
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option." June 19, 2010. (April 27, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011
- Shai, Iris et al. "Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet." The New England Journal of Medicine. July 17, 2008. (April 27, 2011)http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0708681
- Time. "Which Are Worse: Calories from Carbs or Fat?" July 15, 2008. (April 27, 2011)http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1822118,00.html