Why Greek food can be the best way to lose weight

London has a pretty vibrant food scene that includes every recent food trend that range from gluten free to vegan alternatives, from maximum sustainability and zero food waste, all the way to restaurants modernising age-old formulations, flavors and formats.

IMG_0594.JPG

That includes all the available diets like pescatarian, paleo, fruitarian, Atkins, The Zone, Raw Foods, Ketogenic… The list just goes on!

There always has been one diet that always stood the test of time and remained above all the fads as one of the more doable and easiest to follow diets;

"The mediterranean diet"

The version of the diet most familiar with the people outside of the Mediterranean would be the one that was published by the World Health Organisation and the Harvard School of Public Health in 1993, that consists of vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts as well as olive oil as a replacement for all other fat sources. Followers consume animal protein as well as red wine in moderation with meals, and dairy products such as low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese. Fresh herbs and spices replace the need for using excessive salt and use of unhealthy condiments.

Greek and Italian food share many similarities but have a common core; vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts, as well as extra virgin olive oil as a replacement for all other fat sources.

The typical Greek salad, also commonly know as Choriatiki (Χωριάτικη), consists of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, oregano and extra virgin olive oil.

The typical Greek salad, also commonly know as Choriatiki (Χωριάτικη), consists of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, oregano and extra virgin olive oil.

 

People most commonly consume animal protein — with an emphasis on fish and poultry — as well as red wine in moderation with meals, and dairy products such as low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese.

 

The use of fresh herbs and spices like oregano, basil, paprika and black pepper can be found in plethora in many dishes.

 

Did you know?
The mediterranean diet is based on the diets of Greece — particularly its largest island, Crete — and parts of Italy in the early 1960s, because of the populations’ high life expectancy, low rates of heart disease and certain cancers at the time.

 
A typical meal in most places in the Mediterranean consists of vegetables, bread, herbs, spices, olive oil, low fat dairy and meats and always, good company!

A typical meal in most places in the Mediterranean consists of vegetables, bread, herbs, spices, olive oil, low fat dairy and meats and always, good company!

Several studies have shown that a diet following these principles can directly lead to weight loss. Research published in the scientific journal, called the Lancet, last June found that participants who ate diets with high levels of olive oil lost more weight than those on a low-fat control diet.

Another study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2012, suggests that the diet can lower the risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein), also known as “bad” cholesterol.

Other research has suggested a link between the Mediterranean diet and a lower number of recorded cases of chronic inflammation and longevity, likely due to the high levels of antioxidants in the plant-packed diet. (Estruch 2016)
 

Olive oil, for example, contains high levels of phenols, an antioxidant that’s been shown to fight inflammation. (Oldways 2017)

 

Author of “Zest for Life” and certified nutritionist Conner Middelmann-Whitney  recommends the diet wholeheartedly. “More than 3,000 research articles have been published about it, and to my knowledge none have found that it has any adverse effects,” she says. “There are so many fad diets out there, and this is really on solid ground.”

Middelmann-Whitney, who practices at a doctors’ office in Denver, USA  says her patients love that the diet is based on whole, tasty foods. And the pleasure that comes from eating them means that it’s easier to follow for a longer period of time and by the end, the results of the diet stick.

“The weight loss isn’t as dramatic as on a fad diet — it’s usually slower,” says Middelmann-Whitney.

“But at the end, people realise that it’s permanent.”

 

References:

Estruch, R., Martínez-González, M., Corella, D., Salas-Salvadó, J., Fitó, M., Chiva-Blanch, G., Fiol, M., Gómez-Gracia, E., Arós, F., Lapetra, J., Serra-Majem, L., Pintó, X., Buil-Cosiales, P., Sorlí, J., Muñoz, M., Basora-Gallisá, J., Lamuela-Raventós, R., Serra-Mir, M. and Ros, E. (2016). 
Effect of a high-fat Mediterranean diet on bodyweight and waist circumference: a prespecified secondary outcomes analysis of the PREDIMED randomised controlled trial.
[online] The Lancet. Available at: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(16)30085-7/abstract [Accessed Oct. 2017].

Oldways. (2017). History of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid | Oldways. [online]
Available at: https://oldwayspt.org/history-mediterranean-diet-pyramid [Accessed Oct. 2017].

Luciano, M., Corley, J., Cox, S., Valdés Hernández, M., Craig, L., Dickie, D., Karama, S., McNeill, G., Bastin, M., Wardlaw, J. and Deary, I. (2017). Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural change from 73 to 76 years in a Scottish cohort. [online] Neurology.
Available at: http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2017/01/04/WNL.0000000000003559 [Accessed Oct. 2017].