The Mediterranean Diet Hype Machine is Now Open for BusinessMarch 11th, 2013
What is The Mediterranean Diet?
A study was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine titled “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet”. Conclusions from this study are now bombarding the airwaves and you will probably be hearing about the “amazing” results of this study for quite some time. Many “experts” will claim that this study proves that you can derive cardiovascular benefits from increasing the following foods: Olive oil, nuts, fish, fruit, vegetables and red wine. The “experts” will further extol the virtues of monounsaturated fat (found in olive oil) while continuing to demonize saturated fats (found in foods like eggs, cheese, and butter).
Herein lays a big problem with the “expert” conclusions from this recent study. The “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet” actually proves that a diet low in saturated fat is detrimental to your health. Yet many of these same “experts” are trying to spin the results of this study in the exact opposite direction.
The Truth About The Mediterranean Diet
If the authors of “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet” wanted to prove that saturated fats were bad, why did they not add another arm of the trial comparing a low carb – high saturated fat diet to the study? Would putting study participants on a low carb-high fat diet have been dangerous and unethical? Since “everybody knows” that saturated fats are bad?! Absolutely not. In fact, another study was done in 2008 and published in the very same prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and titled “Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet” looked at this very question.
In this 2008 NEJM study-participants were split into 3 groups:
- low-fat, restricted calorie – in other words, starve yourself but eat low fat
- Mediterranean, restricted-calorie – in other words, starve yourself but emphasize, fish, nuts, olive oil, vegetables and red wine
- low-carbohydrate, non-restricted-calorie – in other words, eat as much as you want, but keep your carbohydrate intake very low
This 2008 study showed that diets that were highest in saturated fat yielded the best weight loss and provided the best cardiovascular health markers (like HDL (“good”) and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
What did the “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet” study actually prove?
That you can improve your cardiovascular risk factors by changing your diet, whether you are fat, old, and even if heart disease “runs in your family”. That the typical low-fat diet currently being recommended by nearly all of the experts is clearly inferior to the meditarranean diet. This study was actually well designed and quite powerful, however, any additional conclusions (above and beyond the two just mentioned) is sheer hype and marketing.
Mediterranean Diet Review
There is no doubt that certain components of the meditarranean diet are very beneficial such as fish, low starch vegetables and olive oil. However, there may be some components of meditarranean diet that are overhyped, such as nuts, fruit and red wine. There is also no doubt that avoiding certain food items is a “no-brainer” such as sugar and processed meats. However, many “experts” are also recommending the avoidance of saturated fats based on this study. The truth is that the “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet” study once again proves that a diet low in saturated fats is detrimental to cardiac health. Conclusions to the contrary, blaming saturated fats as a cause of heart disease are blatantly false. These contrived, erroneous conclusions, promulgated by “nutrition experts” are just the tip of the iceberg for The Mediterranean Diet Hype Machine.
Would it shock you to read that every single one of the authors of this study have ties to the pharmaceutical industry and/or alcoholic beverages companies and/or nut companies, and/or fish oil companies? These well-paid “experts” have been telling us for decades that low fat diets are good because of reduced consumption of “dangerous” saturated fats. Now these same “experts” expect us to believe them again. Even though they have proven (yet again) that low fat diets are bad, they still want to make the false statements that saturated fats cause heart disease. Give me a break! And a big juicy steak!
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