I’m trying to catch up on my medical literature reading since I’ve returned from Tel Aviv. There was an interesting article in the July 26 issue of JAMA published in the clinical trials update section titled Weight Gain Not an Issue With Mediterranean Diet.
Just a reminder, a Mediterranean diet is high in vegetable fats such as olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, white meat, legumes, fruits and vegetables. In a trial termed PREDIMED in which three diets were studied for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, the researchers also looked to see which diet caused an increase in waist circumference. There were 7,447 participants in the trial. They had either type 2 diabetes or three or more cardiovascular risk factors. Ninety percent were overweight or obese. They were randomly assigned to receive one of two unrestricted calorie Mediterranean diets, one enriched with 1 liter of extra-virgin olive oil per week and one supplemented with 30 grams of mixed nuts per day. The third group or control group was given a low-fat diet consisting of lean fish, fruits and vegetables, bread, potatoes, and rice.
They were followed for five years. All of the participants in the three groups lost weight but the greatest lost was seen in the Mediterranean diet with olive oil group. The researchers found that aging caused an increase in weight circumference in all three groups but the greatest increase was seen in the low fat group. The authors stated that “fear of weight gain should not be a concern in eating a plant-based high fat diet and called for a radical reassessment of the past 40 years of nutrition policy advising a low-fat diet.”
One of the major complaints of most women (and yes men) is that as they get older their waist expands. If a Mediterranean diet helps prevent some of that expansion, then perhaps we should not be insisting that our recipes and/or restaurants “hold the oil”, especially not olive oil!