A recent study that analysed 40 randomised controlled trials involving more than 35,000 people has found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and premature death in those at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The Guardian reports that five of the seven studied dietary programmes generally had little or no benefit compared to minimal intervention. Although the study had limitations, the BMJ described it as a comprehensive review. Adopting the Mediterranean-style diet as a way of life is a healthy choice that can help to decrease the chances of developing heart and circulatory diseases, and it’s easy to follow.
In this article, we will discuss the study’s findings, the Mediterranean diet’s benefits, and how to incorporate it into our daily lives. This article aims to provide insights into the importance of a healthy and sustainable diet in preventing chronic diseases and improving overall health.
Two Out of Seven Diets Showed Favorable Results
In the said study, seven different diets were used:
- Mediterranean diet
- a very low-fat diet
- modified fat diet
- a combined low-fat and low-sodium diet
- Ornish diet – a low-fat, refined-sugar vegetarian diet
- Pritikin diet – a high-fibre diet that is low in fat, processed food, and red meat
Using moderate-certainty evidence, it was found that Mediterranean diet interventions were more effective than minimal intervention in preventing all-cause mortality, non-fatal heart attacks, and strokes in individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease. Similarly, low-fat interventions were superior to minimal interventions with moderate certainty in preventing all-cause mortality and non-fatal heart attacks. However, based on low- to moderate-certainty evidence, the five dietary programmes provided little or no advantage over minimal intervention.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a dietary pattern based on the traditional eating habits of people living in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain.
According to Queensland Health, it is characterised by a high consumption of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole cereals, beans, nuts, and seeds, as well as a moderate intake of dairy products, fish, and poultry. Red meat is consumed in small amounts, and sweets and processed foods are limited. Olive oil is the primary source of fat, and moderate amounts of wine are consumed with meals.
Is the Mediterranean-style diet popular in Australia?
Yes, it is quite popular. In recent years, there has been growing interest in healthy eating and lifestyle patterns, and the Mediterranean diet is often recommended as a healthy dietary pattern. Mediterranean flavours and ingredients, such as olive oil, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, influence Australian cuisine. Many Australian restaurants and cafes also offer Mediterranean-inspired dishes on their menus.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Numerous health advantages have been linked to the Mediterranean diet, which comprises:
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
The diet is high in healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and low in Unhealthy fats, including saturated and trans fatty acids. This can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Lower risk of certain cancers
The high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the Mediterranean diet has been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, such as breast and colon cancer.
Improved cognitive function
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet may help preserve cognitive function and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
The diet emphasises whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, which are high in fibre and help regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Improved gut health
The diet is high in fibre and prebiotics, which can promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria and improve digestive health.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish, which can help reduce inflammation.
Weight loss and weight management
The diet emphasises whole, nutrient-dense foods and limits processed and high-calorie foods, which can help with weight loss and weight management.
Practical Implications for Individuals and Healthcare Professionals
The study on the Mediterranean diet has important implications for individuals, healthcare professionals, and future research. The Mediterranean diet offers a practical and effective strategy for improving health and preventing chronic diseases by promoting whole, nutrient-dense foods and limiting processed and high-calorie foods. Moreover, this opens up opportunities for further research on the Mediterranean diet, such as:
- exploring its effects on other health outcomes
- the optimal combination of foods within the diet.
Future research could also investigate how to implement the Mediterranean diet in different populations and cultures effectively.
How Can This Knowledge Help First Aiders?
A basic understanding of the Mediterranean diet can be beneficial in emergencies. For instance, first aiders may need medical assistance from individuals with pre-existing health conditions that can be managed through a healthy diet. Understanding the principles of the Mediterranean diet and how it can improve health can help certified first aid professionals to provide more informed and effective care to those in need.
Obtaining a first aid qualification from CPR First Aid Australia RTO NO 21903 can be a valuable investment for individuals and organisations. With courses designed to equip participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle emergencies, flexible course schedules, and a team of experienced and qualified trainers, participants can expect quality training tailored to their needs.