Is the Mediterranean diet more than a diet?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet-benefits/MY02553
- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
- A day in the life of diabetes
Nov. 5, 2013
- Kitchen fires
Oct. 30, 2013
- What is a good ileostomy diet?
Oct. 16, 2013
- Food insecurity still a problem for many
Oct. 9, 2013
- Is the Mediterranean diet more than a diet?
Oct. 2, 2013
Oct. 2, 2013
Is the Mediterranean diet more than a diet?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
The Mediterranean diet gained notoriety following the Seven Countries Study, which compared diets of people living in southern Italy and Greece with the diets of people living in the U.S. and northern Europe in the 1970s. This was the first study to recognize an association between the Mediterranean diet and a reduction in premature death from any cause, including cardiovascular disease.
The Mediterranean diet has come to be viewed as a model diet for good health. But a recent article in the journal "Nutrition Reviews" postulates that factors besides the diet itself might play a role in the benefits attributed to the Mediterranean diet. For example, could differences in types and varieties of foods and methods of preparation play a role?
Imagine if you could travel back in time to the island of Crete circa 1970. Your choice of plants (fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and grains), how and if you cooked your food, and what types of meat and dairy were available would likely be different. Could it be these details that make a difference in health outcomes? The jury is still out.
In the meantime if you want to bring a bit more authenticity to your Mediterranean diet, try these tips:
- Eat a variety of vegetables. In particular, include a variety of dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, cabbage, arugula and broccoli. They are rich in vital nutrients and antioxidants.
- Include more purple and orange fruits. Pomegranates, figs and grapes are rich sources of flavonols, anthocyanins and procyanindins, all of which may reduce heart disease risk. Apricots, peaches, nectarines and cantaloupes are sources of carotenes and other types of antioxidants.
- Retain and eat all nutrients foods have to offer. When cooking vegetables, for instance, do so in a soup or stew. You'll retain more nutrients in the cooking liquid, rather than losing them when you pour off the water after boiling or steaming.
- Eat fruit for dessert. The antioxidants in fruit may counteract inflammatory processes that may occur after you eat a meal.
- Try a new milk or cheese. In the Mediterranean region, goats and sheep are more common than cows, and these animals are more likely to be pasture-raised. A grass diet changes the types of fatty acids in milk and other dairy products.
- Add flavor. Use garlic, herbs and virgin olive oil to flavor your foods. They may protect your heart.
- Go more Mediterranean. Make lunch your largest meal of the day, take a midday nap, be physically active and be more social.
I like these ideas. How about you? Will you adapt these changes to your current diet and lifestyle?
To your health,
- Hoffman R, et al. Evaluating and adapting the Mediterranean diet for non-Mediterranean populations: A critical appraisal. Nutrition Reviews. 2013;71:573. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nure.12040/pdf. Accessed Sept. 30, 2013.