Mediterranean diet proves to be effective

By Jessica Chesko
November 3, 2006

As many college students try to find the appropriate way to lose weight, they end up getting sucked into the overwhelming and sometimes unhealthy world of fad diets.

Diet plans such as the Atkins diet and the South Beach diet have grown significantly in popularity, but such diets tend to be too restrictive. The Mediterranean plan offers a new option.

What is the Mediterranean diet? The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating patterns of the Mediterranean region of Europe. These countries include specifically Greece, Italy, France and Spain.

The Mediterranean diet consists of generous portions of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, bread, nuts and seeds. According to WeightLossResources, to follow this diet you should swap your regular cooking oil with olive oil, opt for wholegrain pasta instead of regular pasta, start every meal with a bowl of salad, use olive oil with balsamic vinegar as a dip for bread instead of butter, have five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, eat less red meat and eat less chips, cookies and cakes.

The Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine says that dairy products should be consumed in small amounts daily and eggs even more sparingly. The principle sweetener should be honey. Wine is allowed, but only one to two glasses daily.

The top reasons why the Mediterranean diet is good for you, according to USA Weekend Magazine, are the high antioxidant and fiber in plant foods, the good fat in olive oil and fish and also there is less bad fat, less iron and fewer carcinogens from eating fewer animal foods. However, this diet can cut the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, prevent various cancers and prevent memory loss.

The World Health Organization showed in a 1990 analysis that four major Mediterranean countries, Spain, Greece, France and Italy, have longer life expectancies and lower rates of heart disease and cancer than other European countries and America.

“I’m not a fan of fad diets but this one does not seem like a fad,” Sue Fitzgerald, the health services coordinator, said. “The Mediterranean diet seems like just focusing on really healthy eating and making good food choices. It doesn’t seem to be limiting any one particular food group which fad diets tend to do like the grapefruit diet.”

“You’re not limited on this Mediterranean diet; actually you have quite a broad range of kinds of foods that you’re supposed to eat. So this one looks actually quite healthy and a great way to make good food choices” Fitzgerald said.

So would college students try this healthy lifestyle? “Yeah I definitely would,” Trish Tieri, junior marketing major, said. “It sounds like a good diet, like more natural because you are actually cooking things and not buying them pre-processed. It has a lot to do with whole grains and that’s a lot better than just regular white bread or white pasta.”

“Everything like the organic pasta and the whole wheat stuff is already at my house so like, I won’t eat the pasta here because I’m so used to eating the stuff at home,” Vicki Burke, a sophomore education major, said. “It works. I don’t really consider it a diet, I just consider it healthy eating.”

“Yes, I would,” Teri Santivasci, a graduate student returning for her Masters of Education, said. “I love olive oil and we eat raw vegetables and we don’t use butter. My husband is Italian so we already do a lot of this.”

According to Health Magazine, “Instead of counting calories, the idea is to approach food the way people in the Mediterranean do. It’s not simply about what foods are best to eat, but how to eat. Mediterranean style means slowing down and savoring foods.”

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Jessica Chesko

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