The term “diet” has a controversial recent history. It’s often used to promote unhealthy, unproven, and ultimately unhelpful styles of eating that promise unfounded claims of weight loss. Despite all the fuss around the term, it’s helpful to remember that a diet is simply what we eat on a day-to-day basis.
In this post, we’re taking a closer look at the regular eating habits of the Mediterranean region. That is to say, the Mediterranean diet.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating traditional to Southern Europe, The Middle East, and North Africa. It is characterised by whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. The diet is generally light on red meats and other animal proteins.
Beyond the diet’s composition, it also emphasises seasonal adjustments to meals based on when crops come in with special attention to foods native to the Mediterranean Basin. It features frequent home-cooked meals and a sit-down sharing style of dining.
Why Fat Matters
Here at Evoolution, we’ve taken great interest in the healthy fats included in the Mediterranean diet. With the many health benefits that fats offer in mind, let’s explore the Mediterranean diet.
Fads vs Facts
In the 1980s, fats began to be targeted in marketing campaigns as major contributors to all sorts of health problems. This unsophisticated effort labelled all fats as troublesome and sought to reduce dietary consumption of fats in all forms. Over the next few decades, this pushed people more towards damaging sugars and refined carbohydrates, depriving them of the many benefits that good fats have.
Extra virgin olive oil, the main fat consumed in the Mediterranean diet, is considered a good fat. It is composed primarily of monounsaturated fatty acids, which can improve your cholesterol profile and actually reduce the risk of harmful cardiovascular events.
Beyond EVOO’s fats, Evoolution’s olive oils also carry a cocktail of antioxidants, biophenols, and other beneficial nutrients. These components have been linked to reduced cognitive decline/Alzheimer’s, potential cancer prevention, and a general decrease in overall mortality.1 These are all effects that make researchers point to the diet as a key driver in the good health of Mediterranean populations.
Beyond the Mediterranean
Fortunately, the beneficial effects of olive oil are seen clearly in non-Mediterranean populations as well. A recent analysis of studies spanning over 30 years and 90,000 North Americans found that a diet higher in olive oil contributed to a lower risk of both total and cause-specific mortality. Results included:
- 19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality
- 17% lower risk of cancer mortality
- 18% lower risk of respiratory disease mortality
- 29% lower risk of neurodegenerative disease mortality
The study also found that substituting 10 grams of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat each day with olive oil was associated with an 8-34% lower risk of mortality.2
Bringing the Mediterranean Home
Unfortunately, not all of us can go out to the garden to pick fresh lemons, stroll down to the market to buy this morning’s sardines, or press our own olives from the grove in the hills behind our villa. But we can make informed decisions about our diet that can positively affect our health for years to come. By substituting our current dietary fats with good fats like olive oil, we can all feel the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet. To get started, prioritize fruits and vegetables, choose more whole grains, and start cooking with Evoolution’s fantastic selection of heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil.
1 Omar S. H. (2019). Mediterranean and MIND Diets Containing Olive Biophenols Reduces the Prevalence of Alzheimer's Disease. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(11), 2797. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112797
Gorzynik-Debicka, M., Przychodzen, P., Cappello, F., Kuban-Jankowska, A., Marino Gammazza, A., Knap, N., Wozniak, M., & Gorska-Ponikowska, M. (2018). Potential Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Plant Polyphenols. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(3), 686. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030686
2 Guasch-Ferré, M., Li, Y., Willett, W. C., Sun, Q., Sampson, L., Salas-Salvadó, J., Martínez-González, M. A., Stampfer, M. J., & Hu, F. B. (2022). Consumption of Olive Oil and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality Among U.S. Adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 79(2), 101–112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2021.10.041