Mediterranean Diet Linked to Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome
The Mediterranean diet has received some pretty good press. It is shown to be useful for people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome (Read: 10 Weight Related Illnesses).
When the Mediterranean diet is supplemented with nuts or extra virgin olive oil, the result is an increase in the reversal of metabolic syndrome (Read: Reversing Metabolic Syndrome).
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase the possibility of heart disease and other health problems including diabetes and stroke. Risk factors for metabolic syndrome are a large waistline, a high triglyceride level, a low HDL level, high blood pressure, and high fasting blood pressure. The risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke increases with the number of risk factors.
People who have metabolic syndrome are twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes compared with people who do not have the syndrome. One risk factor alone increases the possibility for heart disease.
The increase of obesity in adults has made metabolic syndrome more common, and metabolic syndrome may replace smoking as the main risk factor for heart disease.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a southern European diet. The diet is high in fat and is something of a puzzle in contrast to low fat diets. But Mediterranean countries have much lower instances of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes than northern European countries and the United States.
The Mediterranean diet includes a number of plant foods, fresh fruit, beans, nuts, cereals, olive oil, cheese, yogurt, fish, poultry, and small amounts of red meat. Aside from the health benefits already mentioned, the diet is good for the brain and helps protect bones. Get a free printable shopping list for the Mediterranean diet.
Comparative Study of Low Fat Diet and Mediterranean Diet
In a study funded by the Spanish government, a low fat diet was compared to the Mediterranean diet. As noted, the Mediterranean diet was supplemented with either extra nuts or virgin olive oil. When the two diets were compared, the Mediterranean diet was no better than the low-fat diet for decreasing the possibility of developing metabolic syndrome but did increase the chance of reversing the syndrome.
Study subjects were 6,000 men and women at risk for heart disease. Almost two-thirds of the study group began the study with metabolic syndrome. At the end of an almost five-year follow-up, 28 percent of those who had metabolic syndrome at the onset of the study no longer had it. Those on the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have reversed the condition.
In addition, people on the Mediterranean diet had a decrease in belly fat, a known contributor to heart disease. The study replicated prior research that shows the diet has an effect on belly fat (Read: Belly Fat is a Danger for All People).
Beginning the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet can be easily adopted in the United States, whereas the foods are readily accessible. However, Americans must be willing to spend additional time preparing and cooking meals from fresh foods. Eliminating processed and fast foods will, in and of itself, do much to overcome the obesity epidemic in America (Read: Steps to Overcoming Obesity in America).
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