79° Good Afternoon
79° Good Afternoon

Filler: Mediterranean diet can be tasty and health, study says

A woman buys fruit at a market in

A woman buys fruit at a market in Barcelona, Spain. (Jan. 17, 2013) Credit: AP

So here comes another study making the point that if you eat right, there’s a much better chance you won’t die, or rather not as soon and not of the same things.

Regardless of what headlines often claim, no diet or safety initiative or smoking reduction can “prevent deaths.” They can only postpone them. The fatality rate of living is 100 percent.

The source of the good news this time is the Mediterranean diet, and the findings of an enormous study, posted on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday, were that eating it will cut the chance of heart attack, stroke, or dying from heart disease by 30 percent for people at high risk. There have been indications for years that this might be a healthier way to eat, but nothing as factually persuasive as these findings.

The study was, in fact, so overwhelmingly persuasive that researchers cut it off early, after 5 years, because the effects were so obvious it would have been considered unethical to continue, and keep people in control groups eating less healthy fare.

The Mediterranean diet is one high in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables and even wine. In the study, scientists randomly assigned more than 7,000 people in Spain who were overweight, smokers, had diabetes or had other risk factors, to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one.

Still, it didn’t work out quite as planned. Study participants assigned to the low-fat diet found it almost impossible to stick to it, so the study actually ended up comparing the Mediterranean diet to normal, modern habits.

The mainstays of the dietary habits that reduced risk so much were 4 tablespoons a day of olive oil and an ounce per day of nuts, along with at least: three servings a day of fruits and two of vegetables, fish and legumes both three times per week, white meat instead of red and for those willing, seven glasses of wine a week, with meals.

They were also asked to limit consumption of dairy products, commercially made breads and processed meats.

Perhaps most interestingly, the subjects generally didn’t lose weight, they just saw their chances of dying decline anyway.

The thing about the Mediterranean diet is that it’s actually pretty yummy, satisfying enough to stick to once you get used to it. That’s often not true of the zero-fat, zero-carb, juice fasts people indulge in, only to go on “Twinkie benders” when they can’t take it anymore.

So have a glass of wine and a nice piece of fish, and do it often. It’s not just good, it’s good for you.