Friday, May 30, 2008

What exactly is a Mediterranean diet?

Here's one we didn't do today. Normally a story about the so-called Mediterranean diet is a must for any newsroom.

It's the perfect storm. A diet redolent of lazy holidays overlooked by olive groves, of salads and exotic moussaka or pavlava or squid, and all topped off by excellent cheap wine. And it is really, really good for you, little doubt about that.

Today's story in the British Medical Journal purports to link the Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes - that is the type of diabetes usually contracted later in life and caused by overeating and being overweight.

It originates from the Mediterranean country of Spain, home of olives and paella and on the coast of excellent sea-food.

There's only one problem with the story - the definition of the Mediterranean diet. Rich in olive oil, fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish, yes. But low in meat and alcohol?

Certainly not low in alcohol and when you think of moussaka or a traditional Italian meal you must question whether southern Europeans are really that averse to meat. Not when a standard meal consists of a pasta course - topped off with a meat sauce - followed by a meat course.

Yes, it's a healthy diet, I'm just not sure it's a Mediterranean diet, not without copious quantities of wine.

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