May has been declared as National Mediterranean Diet Month, a national health observance aimed at generating awareness of the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle, and the health benefits associated with it.
The event is sponsored by Oldways Preservation Trust, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) as one of the official 2012 National Health Observances for the month of May.
According to Oldways’ webpage dedicated to National Mediterranean Diet Month, “This month-long promotional campaign, created in 2009 by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, generates awareness of the delicious foods and amazing health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet and its vibrant lifestyle through media, supermarkets, health professionals and social networking.” “Each year, more people discover the fabulous flavors and accessible, affordable foods that make up this remarkable way of eating,” Oldways says.
The co-sponsoring Mediterranean Foods Alliance is an alliance formed by Oldways composed of companies that make or import Mediterranean products, along with trade associations that provide educational programs about these products.
What is The Mediterranean Diet?
According to Oldways, the Mediterranean Diet is a “diet of the people of the southern Mediterranean, consisting mainly of fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of dairy, and red wine, proved to be much more likely to lead to lifelong good health. ” “Other vital elements of the Mediterranean Diet are daily exercise, sharing meals with others, and fostering a deep appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy and delicious foods,” Oldways states on its website.
With the help of the Harvard School of Public Health and the European Office of the World Health Organization, Oldways developed a “Mediterranean Diet Pyramid,” which graphically illustrates the Mediterranean Diet and Way of Life.
MedlinePlus, the Health Information website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, states that “The Mediterranean diet is based on:
- Plant-based meals, with just small amounts of meat and chicken, when they are used
- More servings of grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and legumes
- Foods that naturally contain high amounts of fiber
- Plenty of fish and other seafood rather than red meat
- Olive oil, a healthy, monounsaturated fat, as the main source of fat used to flavor and prepare foods
- Food that is prepared and seasoned simply, without sauces and gravies.”
Foods that are eaten in small amounts or NOT at all in the Mediterranean diet, according to MedlinePlus, include:
- Red meats
- Sweets and other desserts
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Several studies have found evidence that the Mediterranean Diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and omega-3′s, is associated with lowered risk of:
- heart disease,
- high blood pressure,
- diabetes and other disorders, and
- may also slow the cognitive decline and memory loss associated with aging.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.”
Resources and Events for National Mediterranean Diet Month
According to the Oldways website, special initiatives for National Mediterranean Diet Month 2012 include:
- “Dietitian-A-Day – Each day during May Oldways welcomes a different registered dietitian as a guest blogger on The Oldways Table blog. Postings include advice and recipes for each day throughout the month of May. A schedule of the featured dietitians is found on the Oldways website;
- Resources for supermarket dietitians nationwide to help them bring messages about the Mediterranean Diet to their customers and help shoppers find healthy foods at retail;
- A National Mediterranean Diet Month Toolkit, with information and resources on the Mediterranean Diet for the public;
- A Guide to the Mediterranean Diet: Make Each Day Mediterranean (PDF – 11 pages), providing an introduction to the Mediterranean Diet, its foods, and health benefits; and
- Outreach to traditional and social media channels to educate and inspire readers, viewers and listeners about the Mediterranean Diet. For more information, contact Rachel Greenstein, Communications Manager.
Oldways invites the public to visit their website (http://www.oldwayspt.org) for more resources, and educational materials, including:
- A list of free, downloadable resources;
- A Store providing “affordable Mediterranean Diet resources for sale;” and
- Recipes for Mediterranean Diet meals.
See related HelpingYouCare™ reports on:
For more information on healthy diet and other healthy lifestyle factors promoting disease prevention and wellness, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:
- Diet & Nutrition: Physical Wellness;
- Exercise: Physical Wellness;
- Sleep, Hygiene, Quit Smoking & Other Healthy Practices: Physical Wellness;
- Activities to Preserve Mental Acuity: Intellectual Wellness;
- Social Interaction & A Sense of Connection With Others: Social Wellness;
- Other Areas of Wellness: Emotional, Ethical/ Spiritual & Vocational Wellness; and
- Examples of Healthy Aging: Stories of Inspiring Seniors.
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