The Mediterranean Diet has been studied extensively in the medical literature. It generally is regarded as being heart healthy. The focus of the diet is on cardiac health, and not on weight loss or reduced body fat. However, one of its favorable aspects is that in people not trying to lose weight it still results in less body fat than other diets. A recent study found that among a group of women, those who most closely adhered to the Mediterranean Diet had the least body fat.
What The Mediterranean Diet Is
The Mediterranean basin has a wide variety of dietary patterns, but most nutritionists consider some unique components to be the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet is based on the food patterns found in Greece and southern Italy in the 1960s. It is composed of an abundance of plant foods, moderate amounts of fish, poultry, and dairy, and low amounts of eggs, red meat, and sweets. Olive oil is its main source of fat, and wine is regularly consumed.
Body Fat On The Mediterranean Diet
An article (1) published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied 259 premenopausal women for their adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and their body fat. Their mean age was slightly more than 27 years old, and their age ranged from 18 to 44 years of age. The researchers gave the women dietary recall questionnaires. They measured total body fat, as well as fat at specific locations, such as waist, thigh and hip.
They found that those who adhered to the components of the Mediterranean Diet had the least overall fat, as well as the least amount of fat at the waist, hip and thigh. This was true even when adjustments were made for age, education, race, physical activity and calories.
Other studies have shown a reduced BMI and waist circumference on the Mediterranean Diet, but this study used a DXA scan to look at body fat distribution. So in addition to lowering heart risk and risk of metabolic syndrome, the diet reduces overall body fat. It also reduces fat at some of the most undesirable locations on the body.
Favorable Ratios Of The Mediterranean Diet
One of the advantages of the Mediterranean Diet is that it has a better potassium sodium ratio than the typical Western diet. Many of its component foods are the same as the high potassium foods diet. This is responsible for a large part of the reduction of cardiovascular risk associated with the diet.
It is unclear how much cardiovascular risk reduction comes from the higher ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat in the diet. A large number of studies support the importance of this ratio of fats in preventing vascular disease, including one involving the Mediterranean diet discussed here.
A high potassium foods diet should include a high ratio of unsaturated to saturated fats to maximize the protection from cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts is a great way to improve both the potassium to sodium ratio and the unsaturated to saturated fat ratio at the same time.
Tables Of High Potassium Foods
If you are looking for tables with the potassium content of various foods, look at the “Links to Food Potassium Tables” tab at the top of the page. Then click a link of the food group you are interested in.
1. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and body fat distribution in reproductive aged women. Boghossian NS, Yeung EH, Mumford SL, Zhang C, Gaskins AJ, Wactawski-Wende J, Schisterman EF; BioCycle Study Group. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Mar;67(3):289-94. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.4. Epub 2013 Feb 6.