New Study: Mediterranean Diet Good for the Heart? We Already Knew That.

February 26, 2013 7 Comments

Greek octopus & peppers

The media particularly in the U.S. has been going crazy with this latest study with headlines such as “Mediterranean Diet study rocks the medical world”,  “Pour on the olive oil!”  “The New Gold Standard”, “Mediterranean diet slashes risk”. Really? You would think that all these headlines would make me, of all people happy, but it is actually disappointing. These journalists are reporting this as if it is the first time they have ever heard that the Mediterranean diet is good for the heart.

The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine basically showed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet who were at high risk for heart disease had 30% less cardiovascular incidents compared to those who followed a low fat diet. This is wonderful news and the study is fine, it is the media coverage that is somewhat problematic.

Further Confirmation of the Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet But Nothing New
The study was slightly over exaggerated in the media and I am not sure why. Perhaps because the Mediterranean diet appeared to have better results then the typical low-fat diet that is often prescribed. In any case this is not the first time we hear of this. In fact I had reported on preliminary results of this study (Predimed) in Olive Oil Times a year and half ago back in 2011 where researchers from the same intervention study showed that individuals who followed the Mediterranean diet were able to reverse arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries) more effectively then medication. Read more »


National Heart Month-The original heart healthy diet: The Cretan Diet

February 25, 2013 4 Comments
Centenarian cretan man

Centenarian Cretan Man, 2010

So February is National Heart Month in the U.S. and the U.K. as a way to increase awareness of heart disease.  As the Mediterranean diet is known for its heart protecting qualities I could not let the month pass by without dedicating a post about it.

Now why do I have a photo of a very old (over 100) Cretan man? Well, we know that in the past that Greeks and particularly Cretans had one of the lowest rates of heart disease worldwide. One of the reasons being the diet. But what diet? You may say “the Mediterranean diet”, but what we are really talking about is the Greek diet and more specifically the Cretan diet. The Cretan diet  (and the Greek generally) of the 50’s and 60’s was in essence the basis of the Mediterranean diet. The description of the Mediterranean diet today has been altered a bit compared to the original. In a great article by Registered Dietitian Rita Carey (she is not Greek, so no bias there) she says, “The term Mediterranean diet is rather misleading. The diet recommendations with this regional characterization are actually based, in large part, on an epidemiological study of men living in rural Crete in the 1950s. I couldn’t say it better myself. Read more »


Easy Tomatoey Vegetarian Lasagna with Feta Cheese

February 22, 2013 4 Comments

Tomato Lasagna

I love lasagna, especially vegetarian lasagna with plenty of sauce and cheese. But I don’t make it that often because 1. That is way too much cheese in one dish and 2. It is time consuming. So I thought of a simpler, less fatty dish using lasagna noodles and ingredients that I usually have at home. So here’s what I did: I made pasta sauce with as many vegetables I could fit in and basically layered the pasta with the sauce, a bit of feta and a bit of parmesan that was that. I put it in the oven and I had “lasagna”.

The result was nice actually. It was a light dish that you can accompany with a salad for a complete meal and it wasn’t complicated to make. Read more »


What’s Cooking for Breakfast in Greece? The Larger Implications.

February 20, 2013 2 Comments


Last week I had the opportunity to attend HO.RE.CA. HORECA is the acronym for Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes. It is basically an exhibition with everything for people in the hotel, restaurant and café business.

I was lucky enough to meet up with some legendary Greek chefs. A common point in our discussions was the fact that Greek food needs to be a larger part of the hotel industry and to move away from the generic continental cuisine and that there was a need not only to promote Greek food but also local Greek food products.

Spoon Sweets, Fruit Preserves and Loukoumi with Cookie from the Halkidiki Region

Spoon Sweets, Fruit Preserves and Loukoumi with Cookie from the Halkidiki Region

Greek Breakfast
Promotion of local food products is one of goals of the initiative of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels known as the Greek Breakfast, which was presented at the exhibition. The philosophy is that hotels around Greece can build their own traditional Greek breakfasts based on food products produced in the area. They believe that breakfast is the ideal way to introduce visitors to local Greek food and products. Read more »


Light and Airy Chocolate Mousse Made with Greek Yogurt

February 13, 2013 8 Comments

Yogurt chocolate mousse

Last year I posted a chocolate mousse recipe with olive oil that I had learned how to make from Greek patisserie chef Stelios Parliaros. This time around I made a lighter chocolate mousse,  again with a Greek twist: I used Greek yogurt. The result is an airy, slightly tangy chocolate mousse.

This recipe is really easy to make and to remember; it needs only 3 ingredients: chocolate, milk and low fat Greek yogurt.

While I wouldn’t call this dessert “light”, I would call it “lighter” as it does have slightly less fat and calories, plus you get about 100 mg of calcium with each serving. Read more »


Following the Mediterranean Diet May Lead to Less Body Fat

February 11, 2013 Leave a Comment


It is well documented that the Mediterranean diet can be beneficial in the prevention and even in the management of several chronic diseases. However, many people believe that the Mediterranean diet is not necessarily a weight loss diet. Well, in fact there have been several studies that show that it may help with weight management, and with this new study we are finding out that it may even affect body fat percentage.

Body weight does not show you how much body fat you have. Body fat and particularly upper body fat is associated with several health issues. In many cases, a person can have a normal body weight but a high body fat percentage. Read more »


Another Study Shows that the Mediterranean Diet May be Better for Diabetes

February 7, 2013 Leave a Comment

greek salad

I have mentioned in the past that the Mediterranean diet is a good diet not only for prevention of diabetes but also for someone who has diabetes. Some years ago it was all about low-fat and carbohydrate counting for diabetic patients. That’s what we were taught in college. And that was what everybody believed. Even here in Greece, it was said that diabetes is a rich man’s disease because the diet had to be high protein, in other words rich in meat, and meat was expensive.

Fortunately science has been pointing to the humble Mediterranean diet as a good choice for diabetes. Even though not low fat, it appears to have better results for type 2 diabetes. An older, yet significant study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that the Mediterranean diet was able to prevent the need for drugs in newly diagnosed individuals. In other words if you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and follow a Mediterranean diet you might not need to take medications. The study compared the Mediterranean diet with a typical low fat diet and found that it was much more effective in controlling diabetes but also for weight loss. Read more »