In February researchers at the University of Barcelona released a large study showing “about 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals”.
This study is significant because 1) heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease are directly relevant to people, 2) the Mediterranean diet was easier to follow than a low-fat diet, and 3) people on the Mediterranean diet had less heart disease than those on the low-fat diet. “The magnitude of the diet’s benefits startled experts. The study ended early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear it was considered unethical to continue.”
We’re trying to follow the Mediterranean diet. A dinner at our Barcelona apartment is shown below. From left to right, there’s (red) wine, legumes (peas) and pasta with extra-virgin olive oil, raw vegetables (lettuce) and strawberries (fruit) , and extra-virgin olive oil to dress the salad. The small serving of jamon iberico and the pate are red meat and are to be limited.
The questions below tell you how well you’re following the Mediterranean diet, from table S1 of the study appendix. Our dinner had no dairy, carbonated beverages, or commercial pastries! At other meals we did eat nuts and sofrito sauce with pasta.
|Foods and frequency of consumption||Criteria for 1 point|
|Do you use olive oil as main culinary fat?||Yes|
|How much olive oil do you consume in a given day (including oil used for frying, salads, out of house meals, etc.)?||4 or more tablespoons|
|How many vegetable servings do you consume per day? (1 serving = 200g – consider side dishes as 1/2 serving)||2 or more (at least 1 portion raw or as salad)|
|How many fruit units (including natural fruit juices) do you consume per day?||3 or more|
|How many servings of red meat, hamburger, or meat products (ham, sausage, etc.) do you consume per day? (1 serving = 100-150 g)||Less than 1|
|How many servings of butter, margarine, or cream do you consume per day? (1 serving = 12 g)||Less than 1|
|How many sweet/carbonated beverages do you drink per day?||Less than 1|
|How much wine do you drink per week?||7 or more glasses|
|How many servings of legumes do you consume per week? (1 serving = 150 g)||3 or more|
|How many servings of fish or shellfish do you consume per week? (1 serving: 100-150 g fish, or 4-5 units or 200 g shellfish)||3 or more|
|How many times per week do you consume commercial sweets or pastries (not homemade), such as cakes, cookies, biscuits, or custard?||Less than 3|
|How many servings of nuts (including peanuts) do you consume per week? (1 serving = 30 g)||3 or more|
|Do you preferentially consume chicken, turkey or rabbit meat instead of veal, pork, hamburger or sausage?||Yes|
|How many times per week do you consume vegetables, pasta, rice, or other dishes seasoned with sofrito (sauce made with tomato and onion, leek, or garlic, simmered with olive oil)?||2 or more|
The researchers haven’t had time to determine which parts of the Mediterranean diet are responsible for the results.