Archive for mediterranean diet
This summer I will be participating in 2 great programs, both covering different aspects of the Mediterranean diet. The program in Crete is an eight-day intensive, part of the field to plate series and aimed at culinary professionals, nutritionists, dietitians and hard-core foodies. The program in Spain is for anyone interested in food and wine at any level. We’ll stay at the amazing vineyard, Prada a Tope, visit local historical sites and delve deeply into the amazing Mediterranean cuisine of the region. All the while of course soaking in the luxurious lifestyle and sampling the local vino.
I will lead several cooking classes through the selection of ingredients, preparation and serving of several different meals. The classes will be small so we can have an intimate discussion regarding what separates the Mediterranean diet from other cuisines around the world. In addition to the many well-known cardiovascular benefits of such cookery, some remarkable new evidence as to the health benefits has just come to light.
The most recent study was performed in Spain and just published in the journal Diabetes Care.1 This study examined over 7000 Spanish men and women as part of the ongoing PREDIMED inquiry into the various potential benefits to the Mediterranean diet. They looked at individuals with a genetic variant, the Transcription Factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2-rs7903146) polymorphism, which predisposes people to an increased risk of glucose and lipid abnormalities as well as the development of type II diabetes. Just having this genetic significantly increases a person’s risk of developing of developing type II diabetes. The group was studied for almost 5 years.
What the study found, was that when people with this genetic variant embraced a Mediterranean diet approach to eating their blood sugars, or blood glucose level, was like that of someone without diabetes. When a Mediterranean diet approach was rejected in favor of a more modern Western diet, the fasting blood glucose levels were diagnostic of someone with type II diabetes. The same pattern was observed for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. This had a very significant, hard end point in terms of cardiovascular events. Those patients with the genetic variant who did not partake of the Mediterranean diet had roughly three times the risk of stroke compared to those with a genetic variant who did follow the Mediterranean diet.
This is a very important study because it highlights a concept and approach that is nascent but growing. It is the understanding that certain genetic markers that are associated with certain diseases do not always produce those diseases. That these diseases will not manifest unless the genes are exposed to hazardous environment. It is not necessarily the gene that causes the disease; it is the environment that allows it to become manifest. This study highlights the fact that what we choose to eat is perhaps the most intimate environment of all. In a very direct way it gives us control over whether we choose a lifestyle and diet of disease and disability or one of health and wellness.
Spain; email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
For Crete: Crete Culinary Experience
1Dolores Corella, Paula Carrasco, Jose V. Sorlí, Ramón Estruch, Jesús Rico-Sanz, Miguel Ángel, Martínez-González, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, M. Isabel Covas, Oscar Coltell, Fernando Arós, José Lapetra, Lluís Serra-Majem, Valentina Ruíz-Guiterrez, Julia Warnberg, Miquel Fiol, Xavier Pintó, Carolina Ortega-Azorín, Miguel Ángel Muñoz, J. Alfredo Martínez, Enrique Gómez-Gracia, José I. González, Emilio Ros, José M. Ordovás. Mediterranean Diet Reduces the Adverse Effect of the TCF7L2-rs7903146 Polymorphism on Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Stroke Incidence: A randomized controlled trial in a high-cardiovascular-risk population. Diabetes Care August 13, 2013, doi:10.2337/dc13-0955
For those that have not seen it, here is the promo for Bikini Lifestyles television show. It is currently airing nationwide on selected PBS stations, please check your local listings. Here’s the promo for episode 4, with yours truly!
Happy Spring! With spring comes the promise of a fresh bounty of fruits and veggies along with other seasonal goodies. A great way to celebrate spring’s arrival, and the still cool nights that accompany her entrance is with some fresh bean dishes. Beans and legumes are a major source of protein and a staple food world-wide. Here we change the usual suspects and use some lupin or lupini beans. A favorite of the ancient Romans, these beans are widely consumed as part of the Mediterranean diet and throughout Central America. They often come packed in brine so rinse well and don’t forget to remove the outer shell before using. In this simple but tasty dish they accompany some other harbringers of spring; fresh herbs and tomatoes from the garden, asparagus- all lightly sauteed in olive oil and seasonings.
The Mediterranean diet approach to eating has been shown in a number of trials to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It also keeps you slimmer so you can squeeze into the flashy French and simply stunning Italian fashions. It is a diet that uses a lot of oil for consumption and cooking, as well as a lot of fresh product, seafood and hearty servings of fruit and veggies. And wine, don’t forget the wine.
What parameters does it improve to yield all these remarkable benefits (these would be those French benefits you hear so much about)? A recent study looked at a number of previous trials from across the globe and comprising over 500,000 participants[i]. It was found that a Mediterranean diet was associated with:
- Decreased waist circumference
- Higher HDL (good) cholesterol
- Lower triglyceride levels
- Better blood pressure control
- Better glucose (blood sugar) metabolism
So if you can’t afford to get over to the Mediterranean, at least eat like it!
[i] (Kastorini, Milionis, Esposito, Guigliano, Goudevenos, & Panagiotakos, 2011)
Too often we look for a one shot quick-fix miracle cure. A super pill or super food as a panacea to, in one fell swoop, cleanse us of all our culinary sins and dietary indiscretions. Well, this ain’t that-but it is close. A recent study looked at the Mediterranean diet in non diabetics at high cardiovascular risk[i]. The Mediterranean diet, as described in this study utilizes
- Olive oil for cooking and dressing.
- Increased consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and fish.
- Reduction in total meat consumption, recommending white meat instead of red or processed meat.
- Preparation of homemade sauce with tomato, garlic, onion, and spices with olive oil to dress vegetables, pasta, rice, and other dishes.
- Avoidance of butter, cream, fast-food, sweets, pastries, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
- In alcohol drinkers, moderate consumption of red wine.
There are a couple of important points to highlight here. There is liberal use of olive oil, which is a natural fat. The fruit, vegetables, legumes and fish are of the very fresh and minimally processed variety. The meat, likewise, should be minimally processed. The sauces to dress the dishes are of the homemade variety. Avoid prepared fast foods, products using highly refined components like flour and white sugar. I think you get the theme; fresh and minimally processed or adulterated food is the key component in the diet.
When this high risk population consumed this diet for four years versus a low fat diet, the incidence of new-onset diabetes was reduced by about 50%. As Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvadó (a principal investigator) noted, “the diabetes risk reduction occurred in the absence of significant changes in body weight or physical activity, so the reduction can be attributed only to the diet, not to weight loss.” Stephanie A Dunbar of the American Diabetes Association commented that ”(p)reviously, a randomized controlled trial, the Diabetes Prevention Program, showed that it was more the weight loss that helped to prevent diabetes, but in this study they are showing that by changing the foods you eat, you can reduce your risk without weight loss.”
Interestingly, the study, PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) randomized folks to a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with nuts or a low fat diet, as the control group. Diets were without limits, and no advice on physical activity was given. The main outcome was diabetes incidence as diagnosed by the 2009 ADA criteria. The study is still ongoing, but the preliminary data from a Spanish site shows that after a median follow-up of four years, diabetes incidence was 10.1%, 11.0%, and 17.9% in the Mediterranean-diet-with-olive-oil group, the Mediterranean-diet-with-nuts group, and the control group, respectively. This equates to a 52% reduction in diabetes, due to the diet (not weight loss or physical activity).
Fresh and unadulterated, it may not be easy but it’s pretty damn simple.
[i] (Salas-Salvado, Bullo, & Babio, 2010)
Episode 5 is here! Roasted tomato and feta couscous! Watch, make, enjoy!