Mediterranean cuisine is synonymous with fresh, natural and wholesome foods. Red meat is eaten rarely, but other sources of fat are consumed regularly through dairy, fish, poultry, eggs and olive oil.
For the last 40 years, the prevailing medical wisdom in western countries has been that saturated fats are the leading dietary cause of heart disease. However, Mediterranean countries continue to have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world, whereas in Australia the problem has become worse since this advice was issued.
Isn’t that strange? In Australia, we also add another type of fat into our diets: trans fats, which are found in fast foods and margarine, and linked to cardiovascular disease. And no matter how carefully we watch our cholesterol levels, the problem doesn’t seem to go away.
In fact, some prominent doctors are now speaking out against the importance given to saturated fats for causing heart disease. Dr. Asem Malhotra recently argued in the British Medical Journal that added sugar is a bigger dietary factor than saturated or unsaturated fats.
ABC’s Catalyst recently featured a fresh look at this issue. The full 29-minute segment is online, for you to view or download:
Update 2016: Video is still available at the Youtube link above, but attracted significant controversy on ABC – see here http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter
If sugar is a major factor, it would support the conclusions of naturopaths, who believe a diet high in sugar is one of the primary causes of cardiovascular problems.
A diet based on the principles of Mediterranean cuisine could be the recommendation from our government bodies in the future.