AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

January 20, 2017

Mediterranean Diet is a Healthy and Delicious Way to Eat

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Along with the New Year's resolutions to lose weight in 2017 came a wave of news reports about how the Mediterranean diet may protect brain health. A recent study, which investigated people over age 70, reported that those who followed a Mediterranean-style diet retained more of their brain volume.

"This is just one study, but it added to the significant amount of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has many positive health effects, including a positive impact on brain health," said Dr. Pam Duitsman, nutrition and health specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

What exactly is the Mediterranean diet? The traditional Mediterranean diet is based on eating whole foods and is abundant in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. It includes mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, seeds, nuts, herbs, and spices. This diet also incorporates moderate amounts of fish.

Traditionally, dairy products were consumed daily in small amounts, mainly as yogurt and cheese. Whole eggs are also included and are often used in whole grain baked goods. Lean red meat is eaten only a few times a month in the Mediterranean diet.

"The Mediterranean diet is a good deal healthier than our typical processed modern diets. But the good news is, it's a delicious way to eat and features foods that are not foreign to Americans," said Duitsman.

Studies have recommended the Mediterranean diet for many possible health benefits including weight loss, and a lower incidence of degenerative diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer and diabetes. The best part is that the Mediterranean diet does not require radical restrictions of fats or carbs.

"This diet is balanced and healthy, and fairly easy to maintain on a long-term basis," said Duitsman.

According to Duitsman, these are the basics of the Mediterranean food plan.

Eat: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, and extra virgin olive oil.

Eat in moderation: poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.

Eat less: red meat.

Avoid: added sugars, refined and processed foods and refined oils.

Totally eliminate: trans fats (found mainly in partially hydrogenated oils and deep fried foods).

"Incorporating a healthy Mediterranean lifestyle also helps. It includes hanging out with positive people and getting lots of physical activity," said Duitsman.

For more information on nutrition, contact any of these nutrition specialists in southwest Missouri: Dr. Pam Duitsman in Greene County at (417) 881-8909; Lindsey Gordon Stevenson in Barton County at (417) 682-3579; Stephanie Johnson in Howell County at (417) 256-2391 or Mary Sebade in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551. The regional office of the Family Nutrition Education Program is located in Springfield and can be reached at (417) 886-2059. Nutrition information is also available online

Source: Dr. Pam Duitsman, (417) 874-2957

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