It’s well-known that ultra-processed and sugary snacks are not good for health. Now, a researcher says that it’s important to reshape the food culture, moving towards fibre-rich and plant-based foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet.
The researcher, Thomas Barber, from the University of Warwick has been exploring the transformative potential of the Mediterranean diet, according to the university’s press statement. He suggests adopting fibre-rich and healthy foods of the Mediterranean diet, specifically, olive oil.
Previous research has linked olive oil with several health benefits such as improving heart health and reducing inflammation in the body. More recently, in July, a new study suggested that daily consumption of about half a tablespoon of olive oil could lower the risk of fatal dementia.
Moreover, the Mediterranean diet has been a talking point in recent years. It has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, improve cognitive function and maintain a healthy weight, according to the statement. In 2018, a study, published in, Nutrition and Diabetes, involving more than 30,000 people living in Italy found that people who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely for about 12 years were less likely to become overweight or obese than those who followed the diet less closely, as reported by The New York Times.
However, availability of essential ingredients, especially during winter months could explain its lack of popularity outside the Mediterranean regions, explains Barber in the statement. "But, it's not just about availability. Millennia of cultural integration and alignment with the Mediterranean lifestyle and climate make it harder for non-Mediterranean populations to fully embrace the Mediterranean diet,” he adds.
In addition, the diet is also environmentally friendly, particularly regarding water usage and carbon dioxide emissions, according to the statement. The EAT-Lancet Commission, which had been asked to develop healthy and environmentally sustainable diets by 2050, provided targets that are very similar to the traditional Mediterranean diet.
"This calls for a collective 'to-do' list to encourage and inspire each other to cook from raw ingredients and rediscover the joy and fulfilment of healthy eating as our ancestors have done for aeons," adds Barber in the statement.
Some of the foods included in the diet are:
Seasonal and fresh fruits and vegetables that are fibre-rich and are packed with essential nutrients
Olive oil as they contain healthy fats
Vegetable-heavy dishes such as griddled chicken with quinoa Greek salad
Salmon with hummus and roasted potatoes