Spanish researchers have concluded that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to gain weight as they grow older.
Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and University of Navarra in Spain studied over 10,000 Spanish men and women with an average age of 38 years at the start of the study.
Subjects had their diets analyses and were each given a “Mediterranean dietary score” which indicated how closely their diet is to a pure Mediterranean diet.
“Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern is significantly associated with reduced weight gain. This dietary pattern can be recommended to slow down age-related weight gain.”
The results showed that people with the lowest scores, that is those who ate a diet that was least like a Mediterranean diet, gained the most weight during the study period of around 5.7 years. Those with the highest scores showed the lowest annual weight gain. It is important to note however that there were no reports of many people losing weight while following the diet. If you eat too much of a healthy diet you will still fail to lose weight.
Other research in recent years has show that a Mediterranean diet that is rich in olive oil is also very good for health.
The study showed that when people followed the diet rich in extra virgin olive oil, their levels of bad cholesterol went down and their blood pressure decreased 5 to 6 percent.
Also a Greek study found that a Mediterranean diet helped to reduce the risk of cancer.
What makes the Mediterranean diet work so well to avoid weight gain is really that it encourages you to avoid energy dense foods and instead eat healthy vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean meats and fish. Also avoiding alcohol is a major feature of the diet.
Really the Mediterranean diet is very similar to the maintenance phase of the Atkins diet or the Paleo diet that also encourages only healthy and natural food. The real key is that junk food is avoided completely. Junk food is very high in calories and as people grow older they naturally burn less energy, so junk food leads to rapid weight gain.
“Adherence to the Mediterranean diet, long-term weight change, and incident overweight or obesity: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort” By Juan-José Beunza, Estefanía Toledo, Frank B Hu, Maira Bes-Rastrollo, Manuel Serrano-Martínez,Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, J Alfredo Martínez and Miguel A Martínez-González. Published in Am J Clin Nutr (October 20, 2010). doi:10.3945/ajcn.