Why Was Heart Disease Rare in the Mediterranean?


the Mediterranean diet is an in topic nowadays in both the medical literature and the lay media 450 papers published in medical literature over just the last year alone more than one a day uncritical laudatory coverage is common but specifics are hard to come by what is it where’d it come from why is it good merits are rarely detailed possible downsides never mentioned so let’s dig in after World War two the government of Greece asked the Rockefeller Foundation to come in and assess the situation impressed by the low rates of heart disease in the region nutrition scientists Ancel keys after which K rations were named initiated is famous seven countries study in which he found the rate of fatal heart disease on the Greek isle of Crete was twenty times lower than that in the United States they also had the lowest cancer rates and fewest deaths overall what were they eating their diets were more than 90% plant-based which may explain why coronary heart disease was such a rarity a rarity that is except for a small class of rich people whose diet differed from that of the general population they meet every day instead of every week or two so the heart of the Mediterranean diet is mainly vegetarian much lower in meat and dairy which he’s considered the major villains in the die because of their saturated fat content unfortunately no one is really eating the traditional Mediterranean diet anymore even in the Mediterranean the prevalence of coronary heart disease skyrocketed by an order of magnitude within a few decades in Crete blamed on the increased consumption of meat and cheese at the expense of plant foods everyone is talking about the Mediterranean dead but few are those who do it properly people think pizza or spaghetti with meat sauce but while Italian restaurants brag about the healthy Mediterranean diet they serve a travesty of it so no one’s really eating this way anymore how do study it researchers came up with a variety of Mediterranean diet adherents scoring systems to see if people who are eating more Mediterranean ish do better you get maximum points the more plant foods you eat but effectively get points deducted eating just a single serving of meat or dairy a day so no surprise those that you relatively higher on the scale have a lower risk of heart disease lower risk of cancer and lower risk of death overall after all the Mediterranean diet can be considered to be a near vegetarian diet as such it should be expected to produce the well-established health benefits of vegetarian diets so less heart disease cancer and death and less inflammation and improved arterial function a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a reduced risk for stroke depression and cognitive impairment how might it work I’ve talked about the elegant study showing that those who eat plant-based diets have more plant-based compounds like aspirin circulating within their systems polyphenol phytonutrients and plant foods are associated with significant lower risk of dying in and of themselves magnesium consumption also associated with significant lower risk of dying the magnesium found in dark green leafy vegetables as well as fruits beans nuts oil and whole grains heme iron on the other hand the iron found in blood muscle acts as a pro-oxidant and appears to increase the risk of diabetes whereas plant-based non heme iron appeared safe same thing with heart disease animal-based iron found to significantly increase the risk coronary heart disease our number-one killer but not plant-based iron the Mediterranean diet is protective compared to the standard American diet and no question but any diet rich in whole plant foods and low in animal fat consumption could be expected to confer protection against many of our leading killers you

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Reader Comments

  1. NutritionFacts.org

    Why were fatal heart disease rates 20 times lower in the Mediterranean than the United States?

    Watch below or click the link to watch on NutritionFacts.org: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/why-was-heart-disease-rare-in-the-mediterranean

  2. FrekeOne

    Could You please answer David Lee (below in the comments)? Everyone knows Ansel Keys only used 7 of the 22 countries. Donno why You would even mention him. Are You not aware of Dr. Ron Rosedale, Prof. Tim Noakes, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, Gary Taubes etc. etc. etc. and their findings? Always so freaking biased here.

  3. Daniel Noble

    Wasn't Keys the researcher paid off by the sugar industry to produce papers that blame fat intake as being bad for you? Or did I just hear that from the spokespeople paid off by the meat industry? Lol so hard to keep the scientific corruption straight these days.

  4. Diane Shugart

    It's not just what people ate on Crete in the 1950s but their eating patterns. Two obvious factors never mentioned with regards to the Keys study or the Mediterranean diet based on his observation is (1) far smaller portion sizes and (2) adherence to the Orthodox fasting calendar.

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