Colette's Blog

Mediterranean Diet: Right Idea, Wrong Reasons

August 5, 2013

Doctors miss the whole story on latest dietary rage:

The Mediterranean diet is all the rage these days. Doctors advocate it, magazines publish articles about it, and TV shows offer recipes for it. Medically correct, politically correct, culinarily correct, and scientifically incomplete.

The diet , as it is portrayed in the media, is fiction, a fabrication of certain consensus by medical readers who observe, correctly, that people in Mediterranean countries don’t follow the revered low fat diet. But still have far few cases of heart disease than do Americans. Noting that the big dietary difference was the use of olive oil, these doctors and science writers concocted a diet in which monounsaturated replaced 15-20% of the carbohydrates in the standard low fat diet. In several big studies, the olive oil diet has shown a major improvement of risk factors of people who had heart disease or diabetes.

I’m not surprised. However, I’m not going to attribute the health benefits entirely to olive oil. Even though I’m a big advocate of mono-unsaturated fat, it plays a secondary role here. The olive oil diet that was tested is now masquerading as a Mediterranean diet. Is it actually what Greeks and Italians eat?

If you’ve ever gone to the Mediterranean countries, you will not see anything that resembles it. The test diet in the media only allows meat once a week, the Greeks and Italians eat meat several times a week or just about every day if you count meat sauces, almost more that the roast-loving British.

The Carbohydrate Culprit:

The successful component of the pseudo Mediterranean diet, albeit to a lesser extent, but the main thing is the cut back is carbohydrates. For a majority of people susceptible to heart disease and diabetes, I am certain tighter carbohydrate restriction would further improve health. But not a single medically correct study ever has pursued this blatantly obvious supposition. The currently recommended, high-carbohydrate diet with 50-60% of total calories from carbohydrates and fewer than 30% from fat tends to increase the body’s levels of dangerous blood fat, namely triglycerides and LDL lipoprotein(a). It also elevates the amount of insulin circulating in the blood, which is a harborer of heart disease and adult onset diabetes, and lowers the beneficial HDL cholesterol. In other words, it causes the insulin resistance syndrome. On the other hand, the imposter diet is high in mono unsaturated fats, with 45% of total calories from the healthy oils, and 40% from carbohydrates. Even a 10%-15% cut in carbohydrates, leads to far fewer health consequences.

In light of the medically correct evidence on healthy fats, the ADA in 1994 revised its dietary recommendations by lumping monounsaturated fats in with complex carbohydrates. Not distinguishing between the two, or portions. The association recommended carbs and fats together make up 60-70% of total calories.

As I’m sure you know, a starchy meal can easily raise a diabetes blood sugar by 200 points. A half cup of olive oil won’t raise that same person’s blood sugar at all. I know the ADA must be squirming in their seat, because the level of type 2 diabetes has increased under its tutelage. That’s no excuse for not distinguishing fats from the carbohydrates.

The logical conclusion:

The real question that begs from the myriad of studies is this: is mono unsaturated so good or carbohydrates so bad? I think the latter.

Would further carbohydrate restriction work better for those with type 2 diabetes and heart disease? Of course it would. And why stop here? At any rate, carry this home with you. Today’s medically correct diet, higher in monounsaturated olive oil and still loaded with carbohydrates (while slightly lower), is second best to concentrating on controlling carbohydrates to your own individual tolerance and emphasizing healthy fats.

Thank You Dr. Atkins 

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