Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a health care professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.
Better Health Through Mediterranean Cuisine
By Hari Dass Khalsa, DC
What is the secret behind the remarkable health of those who enjoy Mediterranean cuisine? Notably, there is a large body of medical research demonstrating the benefits of this type of eating strategy.
Recent medical research demonstrates that Mediterranean cuisine is better than a low-fat diet for reducing low-density lipoprotein (the “bad” cholesterol). These findings provide additional evidence to recommend Mediterranean cuisine as a useful method of protection against risk factors for coronary heart disease. Previous studies found that the cuisine is associated with a reduction in coronary heart disease, cancer and overall mortality.
A contemporary nutritional model influenced by the popular dietary patterns of some Mediterranean basin countries, particularly Greece and southern Italy, there is a general consensus among health professionals that Mediterranean cuisine is healthier than northern European and American cuisine because of a high consumption of fruit and vegetables, bread, wheat and other cereals, olive oil, fish, and red wine.
The food provides as much as 40% of total daily calories from fat, yet, paradoxically, the associated rate of cardiovascular diseases in Mediterranean countries is lower than in the United States.
Mediterranean cuisine includes:
• the use of olive oil for cooking and dressings. Extra-virgin or virgin oil are best, because they have the highest levels of the protective compounds that provide antioxidant effects and can be used as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine.
• generous amounts of fruits and vegetables (10 servings a day)
• nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, Brazil and hazel nuts; generally no more than a handful a day; avoiding honey-roasted or heavily salted nuts.)
• fish products a couple times a week (water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring)
• consumption of white meat (e.g., poultry) instead of red or processed meat (sausage, bacon)
• preparation of homemade sauces by simmering tomato, garlic, onion, and aromatic herbs with olive oil to dress vegetables, pasta, rice, and other dishes
• For alcohol drinkers, a low to moderate pattern of red wine consumption. No more than one 5-ounce glass of wine daily for women or men over age 65, and no more than two 5-ounce glasses of wine daily for men under age 65.
If you don’t drink alcohol, you don’t need to start.
Dr. Hari Dass Khalsa is a chiropractor offices located in the Hawthorne District. 503.238.1032.