Why was heart disease in the Mediterranean rare?
Today, the Mediterranean diet is a popular theme in both the medical literature and the lay media. In the last year alone, 450 new scientific articles have been published in the medical literature, more than one daily.
Uncritical praise of the Mediterranean diet is frequent, but we rarely find detailed information. What is the definition of this diet and where does it come from? Why is this diet beneficial? Advantages are rarely described in detail and potential disadvantages are never mentioned. Let’s take a closer look at it.
After World War II, the Greek government asked the Rockefeller Foundation to come and evaluate the situation. Impressed by the low incidence of heart disease in the area, Ancel Keys, a nutritionist (named after a field army diet as a K-dose), launched his famous study of seven countries. In this study, he found that the incidence of fatal heart disease was 20 times lower on the Greek island of Crete than in the US. The local population also had the lowest rates of cancer and lower overall mortality. What did they eat? Their diet consisted of over 90% of plant foods. This explains why coronary heart disease was so rare. It was rare, but not a small group of rich people whose diet was different from that of the general population. These rich people ate meat every day. Other residents once a week for up to two weeks. So the heart of the Mediterranean diet is predominantly a vegetarian diet, with very little meat and dairy. He also considered Keys to be the main marauders – because of the saturated fat content.
Unfortunately, no one is actually eating Mediterranean food, even in the Mediterranean. The spread of coronary heart disease in Crete has increased by a full order over several decades. Guilt is the consumption of meat and cheese at the expense of plant foods. Everyone is talking about the Mediterranean diet, but few of them keep it right. For example, people think of pizza or spaghetti with meat and sauce, but although Italian restaurants boast of offering a Mediterranean healthy diet, in fact, the food served is just a parody of the Mediterranean diet. If no one is already eating, how can we ever study it?
Researchers have come up with different systems to assess the degree of approaching the true Mediterranean diet. They can find out if people who are getting closer to this diet have better health. You get the maximum score by eating lots of plant foods. On the contrary, for every daily portion of meat or dairy products, the point will be torn down. Not surprisingly, people with relatively high scale placement have a lower risk of heart disease, lower risk of cancer and lower overall risk of death. After all, a Mediterranean diet can be considered an almost vegetarian diet. In this case, it would be expected to bring the same well-known health benefits as a vegetarian diet. So less heart disease, cancer, inflammation and death. It improves the function of the arteries, reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke, depression and cognitive impairment. How does it work?
I have already spoken of sophisticated studies that show that people consuming more plant foods have more plant compounds in the body, acting like aspirin. Plant foods polyphenol phytonutrients are associated with significantly lower risk of death. Sufficient magnesium intake is also associated with lower risk of death. Magnesium is found in dark leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, soybeans and whole grains. On the other hand, such heme iron, that is, the iron present in the blood and muscle mass, acts as a pro-oxidant and appears to increase the risk of diabetes. On the contrary, plant, non-heme iron seems safe. The same with heart disease, iron from animal sources increases the risk of heart disease, our greatest killer. This is not the case with iron from plants.
So the Mediterranean diet undoubtedly protects our health compared to the standard American diet. But every diet rich in unrefined plant foods and stinging on animal fats should provide protection from many of our biggest killers.