What We’re Reading: What is a Mediterranean Diet?

On The Diabetes Self-Management Blog, we’ve featured multiple posts about how eating a "Mediterranean diet" can boost your health. (For example, see Amy Campbell’s post "Mediterranean Madness: FAQs About a Centuries-Old ‘Diet’" and my post "Studies Find Benefits for Fish and Omega-3 Consumption.")

This week, in The NY Times’ health blog, “Well,” Tara Parker-Pope helps clarify what a Mediterranean diet actually is with her comprehensive post, “Confusion About Mediterranean Cuisine.” Her blog entry answers some common questions about Mediterranean eating patterns (and the social practices that go along with them), provides links to stories and studies of this way of eating, and includes a picture of one Mediterranean diet pyramid and links to another. The comments section on her blog entry also has some good discussion going and is worth a read.

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Has this feature cleared up any misconceptions you had about Mediterranean diets? Or does it leave you with more questions? Let us know with a comment here.

This blog entry was written by Web Editor Tara Dairman.

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear web team.

    The impression I get is that the Med diet is a high fat low carbs from grains diet. If you look at the stats the average Greek eats 600 calories of olive oil per day. If you add vine, fish, mutton and goat meat and veggies there is not much left for other carbs like bread. This could be a very good diet for diabetics.

  • Steve Parker, M.D.

    Tara Parker-Pope (no relation to me) does a good job outlining the healthy Mediterranean diet. CalorieLab.com also covered it well today.CalorieLab.com article on Mediterranean Diet

    The traditional healthy Mediterranean diet is considered moderate in terms of all three macronutrients: fats, proteins, carbohydrates. Fat content is usually 30-35% of total calories. Carbs about 50-55%.

    But don’t mistake The Olive Garden restaurant’s fare as typical Mediterranean food. It may be wonderful food, but it is not emblematic of the traditional Mediterranean diet. It’s the Mediterranean diet of the mid-20th century – especially Greece and southern Italy – that is associated with the health benefits.

    Since people with diabetes are at higher than average risk for cardiovascular disease (esp. heart attacks), the Mediterranean diet has great potential to improve their health. Diabetic diet modifications are best done in consultation with a dietitian.

    -Steve Parker, M.D., author of “The Advanced Mediterranean Diet”

  • Joe

    18 Feb 09
    In the last 6 months I have read about a good meter that has been produced for a long time. The test strips are about $19.95 for 50. Can anyone help?

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    The 30 to 35% fat in the Greek diet is only the olive oil and does not include the “bad” fat in the feta and lamb and the “good” fats in fish.

    You wonder if enormous consumption of olive oil is good? For the heart probably. Other parts of the body?

    Could be that attitude in the Med also helps. The poor know their place and do not attempt the difficult, like in America where everyone has try to become a millionaire at the expense of one’s heart.

  • Steve Parker, M.D.

    For the last year I’ve been composing a low-carb Mediterranean diet for my personal patients with type 2 diabetes. It’s available on the web for anyone interested:

    http://diabeticmediterraneandiet.com/diabetic-mediterranean-diet/

    -Steve