Three Experts Weigh In On The Mediterranean Diet

Over on CardioExchange three world-class experts– Walter Willett, Arthur Agatston, and Alice Lichtenstein– discuss the PREDIMED trial that earlier this week gave a big boost to the Mediterranean diet. I highly recommend you read the entire discussion on CardioExchangeHere are a few excerpts.

Walter Willett:

Many practitioners have not given enough emphasis to diet for prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. It is good to keep in mind that the effect of this diet was comparable to that of statins, and there are many beneficial side effects compared with statins…

[The Mediterranean diet] stands as the gold standard. One of the real advantages of the Mediterranean diet is that it is enjoyable and offers great variety, so people are able to stay with it for many years, in contrast to most more restrictive diets.

 Arthur Agatston:

Unintended experiments — such as America’s low-fat, high-carbohydrate movement that ushered in low-fat, processed carbohydrate foods with no precedent in traditional diets — turned out to play an important role in today’s obesity and diabetes epidemics. It is just not feasible to perform trials of the efficacy of truly new diets… The Mediterranean diet, which has stood the test of time, has the advantage of being palatable and, thus, being adopted as a lifestyle with sustained positive outcomes.

The early separation of events between the recipients of the Mediterranean interventions and the controls was impressive…. Therefore, the Mediterranean diet’s effects may be anti-inflammatory rather than just antiatherogenic. That possibility tends to make me more aggressive in recommending the diet for both short- and long-term benefits.

Alice Lichtenstein:

The study confirms what we have known for more than a decade — namely, that the total fat content of the diet has little effect on cardiovascular outcomes and that the important variable is the type of fat.

We don’t know from this study whether other vegetable oils or foods rich in PUFAs or MUFAs, when integrated with a characteristically Mediterranean diet, would have had the same benefit. It is likely they would.

Comments

  1. dearieme says:

    “such as America’s low-fat, high-carbohydrate movement”: I wouldn’t call it a ‘movement’; it’s reckless government propaganda.

  2. Dan Hackam says:

    Agreed. The low-fat, high-carb experiment has been a colossal failure. Diabetes rates have tripled in thirty years and obesity/overweight now stands at 70%, with more than half the population developing metabolic syndrome. In 10-20 years, if we don’t get our act together, we are going to be seeing the legacy of this experiment, specifically higher rates of MI, stroke, dementia and cancer.

    The Mediterranean Diet is an example of a highly successful diet which when combined with vegetarianism and a low carb lifestyle could see remarkable gains in quality of life and overall life expectancy. You are what you eat – literally. I think we are beginning now to see the death of the grain & sugar lifestyle.

    • The dietary foundation of every civilization has been some form of complex carbohydrate such as rice, corn or wheat. There was never a large scale obesity problem until processed, junk food became prevalent. The addictive combination of fat, sugar and salt is the cause of obesity, not grains. Read, “Salt, Sugar, Fat” by Michael Moss. Any form of refined fat (butter, margarine, oil) serves no purpose, is tasteless and supplies 120 per tablespoon of empty kilocalories. There is no taste receptor for fat. Adequate essential fatty acids are easily obtained from unrefined grains and other unprocessed foods.

  3. It is interesting that the relative risk reduction in PREDIMED was about 30 percent which is similar to the risk reduction achieved by statins in a similar high risk population. Therefore one has to wonder whether a Mediterranean Diet could be an alternative to statin treatment for these individuals, see http://www.docsopinion.com/2013/03/02/diet-or-drugs-to-prevent-heart-disease/

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