The Days of Wine and Olives: Should You Eat Like a Greek?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

olives, olive oil (artizone/flickr)

Are you getting your daily nuts, olive oil, fish and sofrito? Gina Kolata, medical reporter for The New York Times, discusses a big new study touting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

→ Take the Mediterranean Diet quiz on The New York Times website

Comments [24]

sorry about the below, I was trying to find out why a long post I wrote did not appear.

Mar. 02 2013 03:59 PM


Mar. 02 2013 03:56 PM

You're right Mr. Robert from NYC: The (unproven)"idea" of a Mediterranean-style diet being beneficial for health has been around for a long time. This was mostly based on the observation that the inhabitants of the Mediterranean area have lower rates of cardiovascular disease (and their consequences) than other Western areas (mainly, USA.) But there was no really "proof" of this "idea." Among other things, Gallic populations also have a comparatively lower rate of CVDs though they do not follow Mediterranean diets (lots of fattening stuff, as cream, is consumed, albeit in smaller portions than in the USA, and their average weight and girth is smaller.) The beneficial effects of ingesting red wine was proposed (not proven) for this effect. Now, for the first time, the potential benefits of a Mediterranean diet vs a fat-restricted diet has been strongly suggested by the current controlled clinical trial carried out in Spain. Remember, there was no weight changes in either group. Now... as to what all this has to do with your suggestion of the "return of the Mussolinis, Stalins and Hitlers" is beyond me... aside from a run-of-the-mill paranoid delusional statement.

Feb. 27 2013 12:05 PM
anna purves from Riverdale

IF Greeks can't follow their own diet, what hope for us?
Greeks suffer not just in their economy but for many years now in their health and resemble Americans more than anything else.
The true Greek diet is great, but it's a vanishing diet, not a common one anymore. Sad but true. My husband is Greek and we get to compare Greeks here and there. Once Greece became prosperous a few decades ago everyone started eating desserts and tons of red meat every day, not just Sundays. Butter and cheese quantities in prepared dishes is huge and the recipes from Greek American cookbooks reflect that staggering saturated fat content on this side of teh pond also.

They also stopped exercising. Greeks are exhausted all the time from having to live a international schedule and a Greek one at the same time. They have given up siestas in order to compete but they still stay up super late. This means they live on coffee all day long. Kids are seriously sleep deprived because they spend their entire life studying 7 days a week.

IF you go to a Greek social club in NY you will see that all the women are at least a size 18 and this is before they hit 30 so you can't just blame it on the mother country.

Half the people in Greece are significantly overweight. Juvenile diabetes and juvenile obesity is rampant in Greece. I never saw so many 25 year old men with pot bellies. Not to mention the smoking is out of control. More people smoke in Greece than ever before, now that women are getting a smidgin of equality they are also taking up smoking.
So, again, until the weight of pubic opinion in Grece or the US makes overeating/bad eating unfashionable, no one is going to stay on a Mediterranean diet for very long.

Feb. 27 2013 11:42 AM
Wendy from Highland Park, NJ

Coconut oil rocks! Great for you, and so yummy.

The image of the diet suggestions as currently posted is only about half the full listing as shown in the study. Click on the study link to see the full listing.

Feb. 27 2013 11:39 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To altoman

I've been on the Atkin's "diet" for over 15 years now, and eating well cooked meat, fish and eggs has worked very well for me. Of course one should eat some carbs and get nutrients from some vegetables and fruits as well, but restricting carbohydrate intake, especially sugars, is paramount to keeping weight down. However, in general, it is best to eat less, exercise more, in order to live healthier and longer.

Feb. 27 2013 11:38 AM
Vinny from White Plains NY

I think it's all nonesense whenever the "scientists" get in involved w/ diet and nutrition. There are too many other variables to judge the M.D. as the best for you.

Remember when all the "experts" were telling us not to eat fats? That commandment from on high needed to be qualified quite a bit. Then there was the bugagoo about red meat. That stood until along came the low carb fad and the red meat embargo also needed to be qualified.

last year I cut back drastically on my bread and pasta and sweet consumption and within a matter of months by cholesterol and sugar went back to normal range. As a pleasant corallary, I can now see the muscles in my abdonomen again. Not bad for a 50 year old male!

On the topic of wine I want to add that not all wines are created equal. In the US, sulfer dioxide by law is required to disinfect the bottles. That stuff doeesn't agree with everyone and takes a lot of the best things out of wine. In Italy and France, the wines don't have to have this poison and you taste and feel a difference. For me, wine is a very, very occasional drink. Becasue of the sulfer dioxide and the sugar, I would never consumer it every day; I don't care who's telling me it's good for me.

There are a lot of very, very unhealthy looking Americans out there--you see them everywhere---but having traveled to Europe I can say this: There surely are unhealthy looking Europeans, but they just seemed a hell of lot less stressed out than we are.

Feb. 27 2013 11:34 AM
Wendy from Highland Park, NJ

Your listeners should know that most imported olive oil is not in fact real olive oil - it's adulterated with lower grades of olive oil and other cheaper (non-olive) oils. Google "olive oil is not real" and you'll find plenty of info on this, including an NPR story from 2011.

The NPR story also mentions that EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) is in fact a recent invention, and not part of the traditional Mediterranean diet.

I'm curious whether the study just recommended EVOO, or supplied a specific brand of EVOO that's known to be pure olive oil, or ... ?

Feb. 27 2013 11:32 AM
altoman from Glen Cove

The topic will continually be brought up: Meat, eggs, dairy, extra carbs are the killers.
Until the food industry shifts it's interest from the European diet (beef & pork livestock, corn syrup etc), the pharmaceutical industry will continue to cash in on correcting the 'problem'.

Feb. 27 2013 11:29 AM

I don't think they are claiming that this Mediterranean dietis new; it's just that this may be the first definitive study of it with such a large sampling.

Feb. 27 2013 11:29 AM
Robert from NYC

is she related to piña colata?




Feb. 27 2013 11:20 AM
eve from brooklyn

where do we find the check list? please post the link.

Feb. 27 2013 11:19 AM

We use a ton of olive oil, garlic, and fresh vegetables every day.
i think I use about a gallon of olive oil every 6 weeks. I also make homemade sofrito
and freeze it in cubes. it makes everything wonderful.
My kids (in their mid 20's) never eat canned or frozen vegetables and tell stories about not wanting to
eat at friends houses when they were little because the mom's cooked crap from the frozen section or middle of the store stuff (betty crocker potatoes.. eww).

Feb. 27 2013 11:18 AM
Robert from NYC

Yes that is the basic tomato sauce. Soffrito is actually something else but so called "marinara" sauce is sauteed garlic/onions then add tomatoes and cook for 20-30 minutes slowly and you can throw in several fresh, rubbed between the palms of your hands basil at the end and stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Mmmmmmmmm squisito if you have good tomatoes.

Feb. 27 2013 11:16 AM
Meg from Stamford, CT

2 questions from quiz:

is seltzer a carbonated beverage?

are homemade sweets (v commercial) really ok and that much better than?

Feb. 27 2013 11:16 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Isn't sofrito similar to pesto? Just finely ground herbs and spices? Maybe a bit of olive oil added?

Feb. 27 2013 11:15 AM
RCT from NYC

Question: have we figured out whether the diet works because the foods eaten are good for you -- i.e., have a positive affect in preventing disease -- or because the foods that are not eaten are bad for you?

I eat a Mediterranean diet -- fish, veggies, olive oil, no meat. If the real culprit is starchy carbs, however, or processed foods -- not on the diet --then maybe a hamburger won't kill you.

Low-fat diets are heavy on the starchy carbs. Maybe it's what's left out -- the carbs, and maybe not the (if not organic) meat -- that's making the difference.

Feb. 27 2013 11:12 AM
Linda from East Village

Isn't wine fattening? There are lots of overweight oenophiles.

Feb. 27 2013 11:11 AM

Low fat diets have been proven to be dangerous over and over again. And yet, we still try to pin the blame on fat for so many of our problems. God forbid school lunches look anything like a Mediterranean diet. Watch the pundits trash this study to defend current food policy.

Feb. 27 2013 11:10 AM
JMD from NYC

What does Sanjay Gupta know about nutrition? The guy is a neurosurgeon yet never fails to chime in on topics he knows little about - from the weather to sports. He is a self-imposed authority on just about everything. I wouldn't give him any credibility outside of knowing how to perform a lobotomy.

Feb. 27 2013 11:04 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

I eat these foods because they taste good. I graze all day long, drink red wine, all while working from Home! Life is good.

Feb. 27 2013 10:51 AM
JT from LI

On CNN Dr. Sanjay Gupta pointed out that in this study participants had trouble staying on the low fat diet, which was the control, so this wasn't a conclusive study.

Feb. 27 2013 10:46 AM
cheesy from nyc

I enjoy eating Greek Salads, those come with Feta cheese - is eating the 'fatty' feta cheese defeating the benefits of the Greek Salad?
Where does guest stand on adding cheeses to the ME diet? How often can we eat meat?

Feb. 27 2013 10:39 AM
Robert from NYC

How quickly "we" forget! This isn't new, this talk about the Mediterranean diet has been around for at least 20 or so years. It was a big thing then and never really went away, it's been discussed ad nauseam right up to the present. So this is now introduced here as some "new" discovery?! Excuse me, duh. Gosh, if we forget so quickly watch out the Mussolinis, Stalins and Hitlers of the world could make a return and we wouldn't even recognize it. Hmm, or have they already! LOL

Feb. 27 2013 10:11 AM

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