When university researchers completed a systematic review of 50 human studies published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, 1 they found strong evidence to support five specific clinical benefits.
Here’s the breakdown:
1. A Mediterranean-style diet helps overweight people lose excess weight, including harmful belly fat.
A high level of evidence supports the ability of this type of diet to reduce both obesity and abdominal adiposity (belly fat). This well-reported effect is seen in both controlled clinical trials and population studies.
2. A Mediterranean-style diet helps prevent type 2 diabetes and control symptoms.
A moderate level of evidence indicates this type of diet has benefits related to diabetes. Healthy people who follow it have been shown to lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes in some, but not all, studies. For people with diabetes, a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to reduce symptoms such as glycated hemoglobin and inflammation.
3. A Mediterranean-style diet helps reduce risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
A moderate-to-high level of evidence indicates this type of diet reduces risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Some studies indicate it is better than typical diets for reducing waist size and blood pressure, increasing “good” HDL cholesterol, and decreasing blood triglycerides. The benefits appear to be dose-dependent, so the better you follow the diet, the better it helps.
4. A Mediterranean-style diet helps prevent people at high risk from developing cardiovascular disease.A high level of evidence supports a Mediterranean-style diet and its ability to protect heart health. What more, for people at high risk of cardiovascular disease, this type of diet has been shown to be better than the standard low-fat diet recommended by the American Heart Association. What’s more, the body of evidence shows a Mediterranean-style provides serious protection against developing (or dying from) cardiovascular disease in the general population.
5. A Mediterranean-style diet helps prevent weight gain.
A moderate-to-high level of evidence supports the ability of a Mediterranean-style diet to prevent weight gain. In general, those who follow the diet more closely have less weight gain over the long term (and a smaller waist size).
The bottom lineTalk to your doctor today about making a Mediterranean-style diet part of your healthy lifestyle. If you’re new to this type of diet, check out our post The Best Diet for Your Health for seven tips to get started quickly. You may also be inspired by one of our favorite books on the subject: Good Food, Great Medicine.
And, when your doctor gives you a diet prescription, be sure to thank her. Then pat yourself on the back for choosing such a progressive practitioner who knows the serious health benefits of such delicious advice.