People often say the Mediterranean diet is healthy but is it?
To start we need to know what it is if it is anything at all!
Straw poll 100 people (I did this) and ask them what they think of when the term ‘Mediterranean diet’ is mentioned and about 80 will say olive oil. So is it olive oil that makes the Mediterranean diet healthy?
The answer is absolutely not. Let’s get back to defining what a Mediterranean diet is though before determining an answer… I mean there are currently 22 countries with cities on the Mediterranean coast… do they all have the same diet? Here are a few…
To suggest the diet of Benghazi is the same as that of Marseille is ridiculous- we need definition. Only then can we draw sensible conclusions.
Let’s define it: Mediterranean = middle land (Latin stem) Diet = way of life, diaita (via Latin, from Greek) So a Mediterranean diet is the way of life of people living at mid-latitudes.. .. still with me?
The Mediterranean diet that is healthy refers to one that is high in fruits, and vegetables, working the land, community, faith, and minimal stress. It actually references the diet of the people of the Greek island of Crete. A rugged island in the eastern Mediterranean.
But what about olive oil? Well, it certainly features but olive oil isn’t easy to produce; certainly not prior to the huge factories and machines we have now. Yes, it was used but not for the reasons you might think.
Olive oil was used prior to times of refrigeration for preservation. It was used to keep flies and other insects from spreading disease and laying eggs in food. It was used as a thin layer on top of food and removed prior to consumption.
The notion that olive oil is what makes a Mediterranean diet healthy is ridiculous. It contains no protein, no carbohydrates, no minerals and a little vitamin e, but you’d need to drink pints of it to get any useful amount. It’s pure fat and 110Cals/tablespoon.
Just look at the nutritional values… it’s junk food!
The marketing is powerful. An example is the PREDIMED study…
But it had 3 major flaws;
1: The people were so fat anyway that they could’ve consumed anything and lost weight.
2: A major oil company paid in part for the study.
3: oh, and they also stopped the study once they had results that were favourable.. hmm.
Now, that’s only one study and there are loads but the concept is the same… tell people good news about their bad habits and they will buy. So it results in reductionist thinking, i.e. put olive oil on anything and it’ll be more healthy. This is flawed.
This thread isn’t meant to dig on olive oil, it’s to make a point. One to question what you read. Ask yourself, which Mediterranean diet, at what time in history, what specifically, and so on.
The conclusion is simple. The Cretan diet of the 1900’s is healthy. The Barcelona diet of 2023 is not. Nor is the diet of 2023 Nice, Genoa, Athens and so on. We see this through so many healthy metrics… However, it’s probably a bit better than the US diet overall.
Hopefully this gives a little clarity. You must understand that food companies are, in general deceiving you and very intentionally. If you want to eat well you must see past the BS. It’s not easy though – cash gives influence.. Useful?