The benefits of eating a “Mediterranean Diet” on reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (heart attacks) and stroke) and Hypertension (high blood pressure) is well known. Well, here is another positive heath reason for following a Mediterranean Diet. – it reduces the incidence of depression. Researchers at University Las Palmas in Spain followed 10,094 individuals for four years who, at study entry, were not depressed. Those people who adhered the most to the Mediterranean Diet through the study period had a 30-percent lower incidence of depression than individuals who did not. Following a Mediterranean Diet may also prevent the onset of depression.
The Mediterranean Diet consists of low meat intake, moderate intake of alcohol (wine) and dairy products (sheep’s milk products), and high intake of fruits, nuts, vegetables (primarily greens), cereals/grains, and fish (small fish like sardines, high in omega 3’s), and flavoring foods with herbs, spices and natural sea salt. The researchers found dose-response relationships for:
- fruits and nuts
- monounsaturated-to-saturated fats ratio
- legume (beans) intake
The higher the intake of fruits, nuts, monounsaturated fats (olive oil) and beans – The more profound the beneficial results were.
Archives of General Psychiatry 2009;66:1090-1098.
ADDITIONAL: E-mail to Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas MD one of the foremost researchers into the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
I just read your study in JAMA, very nice! I have a Integrative medicine practice in southern California for twenty years now and advocate that my clients follow a Mediterranean Diet. I have followed this way of eating for over twenty years and at 45 I have ideal blood markers.
My question is this: what do you feel is the most important aspect (most profound physiological benefits) of the Mediterranean diet?
Is it the red wine (polyphenols, especially resveratrol and its ability to increase NO synthase?)
Is it olive oil and omega 3’s from the fish and almonds?
Does the diet itself inhibit/reduce inflammatory cytokines, reducing the incidence of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s?
I would really appreciate any insight you can share.
Thank you in advance.
Reply (brief but to the point):
Dear Dr Ettinger.
We are investigating some of it. Currently it is not clear. It may be a combination of all the above – biological synergy. Physical activity seems equally important.
Thank you for your interest.
Below is a paragraph from my post on The True Cause of Alzheimer’s? The deficiencies that may predispose one to developing this terrible disease can be corrected by following a Mediterranean Diet and engaging in regular exercise, throughout one’s life.
“My thought’s on predisposing/contributing factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia: A severe lack of vitamin D, magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA), fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, exercise, chiropractic adjustments, continual engagement in intellectual activities (chess, crossword puzzles, social interaction…) and prolonged smoking.”