The Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to benefit people with diabetes by improving blood glucose control, involves eating a high amount of fruits and vegetables. Consumption of monounsaturated fats accounts for roughly 30 to 40 per cent of total daily calorie intake, which is found in foods such as avocados and nuts.
In this new study, researchers from the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Centre, Minnesota, US looked to evaluate the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
After scouring various electronic databases, the researchers included controlled trials that involved 100 persons or more who were followed for at least one year. The participants were all monitored for mortality, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
The definition of a Mediterranean diet consisted of two parts. The first part was a lack of restriction on total fat intake; the second part involved the inclusion of two or more of seven components: high fruit and vegetable intake, high monounsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio, high grain and cereal consumption, high legume intake, moderate dairy product consumption, moderate wine intake, and low meat and meat product consumption, but with high fish intake.
A total of 53 unique studies fitted the criteria, and the researchers found that researchers with the highest adherence to a Mediterranean diet had lower total cancer mortality, lower incidence of all cancers, lower incidence of major CV events and lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Dr Hanna E. Bloomfield, MD, MPH said they found “that healthy diets can include a lot of fat, especially if it’s healthy fat; and the emphasis in the United States at least for the past thirty years has been [that] it’s important to reduce fat – fat of all kind – fat’s the bad thing.”
Bloomfield added: “It turns out that the obesity epidemic in this country is probably more due to our increased consumption of refined grains and added sugar and not so much from our fat consumption.”
None of the studies found that eating a Mediterranean diet affected all-cause mortality, but the researchers have called for future studies to investigate whether specific diet components are more beneficial than others.
The study appears online in Annals of Internal Medicine.