Hanna Bloomfield, MD, MPH, a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota and associate chief of staff for research at the Minneapolis VA, and colleagues reviewed 56 studies published from 1990 through April 2016. While the definition of a Mediterranean diet differs, they defined it as a plan that had at least 2 of 7 components and no restriction on healthy fats. The 7 include: a high ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats; high intake of fruits and vegetables; high intake of legumes; high grain and cereal intake; moderate red wine intake; moderate intake of dairy products; and low consumption of meat and meat products, with more fish consumption.
One large study the researchers reviewed found that following the Mediterranean diet was linked to a 29% reduced risk of major cardiovascular events, a 57% lower risk of breast cancer, and a 30% lower risk of diabetes. Other research suggests that the diet might produce the health benefits by mechanisms including lowering cholesterol, body weight, and blood glucose.
“Limited evidence suggests that a Mediterranean diet with no restriction on fat intake may reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes mellitus but may not affect all-cause mortality,” the authors write.
- Bloomfield HE, Koeller E, Greer N, et al. Effects on Health Outcomes of a Mediterranean Diet With No Restriction on Fat Intake: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2016; doi: 10.7326/M16-0361