04 Mayo 2017 08:54
This professor at Navarra University and visiting professor at Harvard co-authored a Predimed essay, cementing his status as one of the world's foremost experts in food research. His conclusions are surprising: 'If global culinary patterns were to emulate the Mediterranean diet, if physical exercise were to increase and tobacco disappear from the face of the Earth, it would become quite normal for people to stay relatively healthy until the age of 100.'
This is evidenced by a sample of 7,500 participants – recruited from all over Spain over the course of a decade – and studied for the essay: 'Now we eat like the Americans want us to eat. This is a globalised diet of junk food. Hamburgers, kebabs, and cheap, abundant foods. One feature of the Mediterranean diet is that it's frugal. People don't drink or eat too much. The pleasure isn't in the size of the meals, but in the quality of the food prepared. These days, portions are too big and we eat far more than we need,' says the Spanish researcher.
'One way to define the Mediterranean diet is to say what it is NOT. By looking at what we should avoid, we can get a better idea of what we can eat and not gain weight.' These are the eight enemies of the Mediterranean diet: 'the healthiest diet in the world,' according to Dr Miguel Ángel Martínez-González:
1. Red meat, burgers and sausages
'It's essential to reduce consumption of red meat. The Mediterranean diet is low in consumption of beef, pork and lamb, and also low in processed meats like sausages and hamburgers. Only acorn-fed Iberian ham is recommended. We've studied more than 10,000 people and found that individuals who avoid these meat products are less at risk of hypertension and suffering heart attacks.'
2. White bread
'It's a vehicle for smuggling sugar into your body in the form of starch. Bread is OK, but only when made with wholemeal flours.'
3. Sweet desserts
'Say no to sweet desserts after every meal. In a Mediterranean diet, fresh fruit should be the dessert. Say no to sweets, cakes, and dairy desserts like sweetened yoghurts. A lot of people have a healthy main meal but then let themselves down with the dessert.'
4. Sugary drinks
'This is a very profitable business because consumers become hooked on the super-sweet taste that only these types of drinks can provide. They then stop drinking water – contributing to the obesity epidemic that is spreading across the world.'
5. Beer and spirits
'High-proof alcohols like whisky, rum and vodka are not typical of the Mediterranean diet. Nor is beer. What is typical is a glass of red wine with your meal each day, spread out over the course of the week. Weekend binge drinking is not recommended.'
6. Palm oil and butter
'Butter is out. As are vegetable oils like palm oil, sunflower oil and soy oil. Cooking fats are not recommended either. Only virgin olive oil.'
7. Ice cream, pizza and dairy products with a lot of fat
'Say no to pizzas, ice creams and fatty dairy products. This includes American-style pizza, which is basically a vehicle for loads of fatty cheese.'
8. Cereal bars and processed foods
'Supermarket shelves are packed with processed foods such as cereal or muesli bars. These products are supposedly very healthy, but, at the end of the day, we don't really know what they're made of. It's important to read the label very carefully.'