Hanna Bloomfield’s bosses at the Department of Veterans Affairs had been reading a lot about the plant-based Mediterranean diet.
Some highly publicized recent studies had shown that eating many fresh vegetables and olive oil along along with maybe a splash of red wine could have actually tremendous health benefits, and they wondered whether it was something the VA, as an organization, should consider recommending to its more than 9 million patients.
They tasked Bloomfield along with figuring out whether this health effect was real — or simply hype.
Bloomfield, associate chief of staff for research for the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and a professor at the University of Minnesota, pulled 56 previously conducted studies on the subject and reanalyzed all the data.
Her work was published recently in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Since Mediterranean diet typically doesn’t really refer to a specific formula for eating, but rather the mix of dishes popular in one region of the world, Bloomfield defined it as one that met two criteria.
First, it would certainly have actually to have actually restriction on total fat intake. Second, it had to have actually two or more of seven different components: having a higher ratio of monounsaturated-to-saturated fat, which can be achieved by using olive oil or canola oil; high fruit and vegetable intake; high consumption of legumes; high grain and cereal intake; moderate red wine consumption; moderate consumption of dairy products; and low consumption of meat and meat products along with increased intake of fish.
When looking at mortality, the results were discouraging. Bloomfield found that the diet didn’t seem to impact overall mortality. That is, those who stuck to the diet didn’t seem to have actually a lower risk for dying earlier than those who ate differently.
However, there did seem to be a lot of good news when looking at specific diseases. The Mediterranean diet not only appeared to reduce a person’s risk of heart issues but likewise seemed to have actually benefits in connection along with breast cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
So how much fat can you eat?
According to Bloomfield, “a lot,” but this rule doesn’t apply to all fats.
“If you are eating healthy fats that are monounsaturated fats like olive oil or canola oil, you don’t necessarily have actually to limit them. But that doesn’t mean you should be going out and filling up on bakery products that have actually saturated fats,” she explained.
She said the study supports the idea that eating healthy fats may fill you up more than carbohydrates, and the misplaced emphasis over the past 30 years on eating a low-fat diet may have actually backfired by leading people to eat unchecked amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates leading to obesity.
Indeed, in the brand-new Dietary Guidelines for Americans that came out in January, the recommendation that you consume less than 30 percent of calories from fat was taken away. It was replaced along with a warning about saturated fats, which are mostly found in meat and dairy.
Bloomfield noted that the evidence, which included only a few randomized, controlled trials, was not great enough for her to recommend that the VA push the diet universally on all its charges, but that it was strong enough that individual doctors may want to bring it up to their patients on a case-by-case basis.
Researchers aren’t sure why the Mediterranean diet appears to be good for the body. Some have actually hypothesized that it could have actually to do along with lowering cholesterol, blood tension and weight or having a higher concentration of antioxidant or anti-inflammatory molecules in the diet.
One recent study showed that people along with greater adherence to the diet appeared to have actually longer telomeres — the caps at the end of chromosomes — which are associated along with longevity.