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Mediterranean Diet reduces Diabetes Risk

What is the Mediterranean diet? Well, it is one typically rich in pasta, bread, fruit, and vegetables, (high in fiber and low in trans fats) with moderate amounts of poultry and fish, using liberal amounts of virgin olive oil and a moderate amount of alcohol (specifically red wine). The Mediterranean diet is reputed to be among the healthiest in the world. Multiple research studies have shown that Mediterraneans suffer less heart disease than people from northern Europe.

Nutrition experts believe that the typical Mediterranean diet reduces ‘bad’ or saturated fat and increasing the level of natural antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, significantly reducing the risk of heart attack. A landmark research study (prospective, cohort) showed a startlingly positive, strong correlation between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a decreased risk of developing diabetes.

Mediterranean diet: research

This study involved over 13,000 graduates from the University of Navarra, Spain (with no history of diabetes), whose dietary habits and health were tracked over 8 years. Initially, participants completed a food frequency questionnaire designed to measure the entire diet, including questions on the use of fats and oils, cooking methods and dietary supplements.

Every two years participants were sent follow-up questionnaires on diet, lifestyle, risk factors, and medical conditions. During the follow-up period the researchers from the University of Navarra found that participants who stuck closely to the diet had a lower risk of diabetes. A high adherence to the diet was associated with an 83% relative reduction in the risk of developing diabetes.

Adherence measures how closely the participant followed the Mediterranean diet guidelines using a numerical scale. On a ten-point scale (0-2 for low, 3-6 for medium and 7-9 for high Mediterranean diet adherence) researchers discovered that each 2 point increase on the adherence scale had a corresponding 35% reduction in diabetes risk! Benefits from consuming a diet rich in plant foods (including fat) and low in processed foods? Who would’ve thought?

Snacks part 2: Best low calorie snacks

Now that we have taken a look at the best low calorie dairy snacks, it’s time to move on to part 2: Best low calorie crunchy snacks. Let’s review the basic criteria for a ‘healthy’ snack? Keep the following in mind when choosing your snacks:

  • Offer between 100 and 200 calories
  • Are fat-controlled (unless it’s heart-healthy unsaturated fat), providing 0 g trans fats and 3 g saturated fat or less per serving
  • Are relatively low in sodium; strive to limit the sodium in your low-calorie snacks to 400 mg or less
  • Are nutrient-rich: a good food source of protein, dietary fiber and/or key vitamin and minerals (such as iron, vitamins A, C or calcium)
  • Offer a little something extra: are available in calorie-controlled portions, contain no high-fructose corn syrup and little added sugar; are gluten or lactose-free, have added omega-3 fatty acids, etc…

These snacks are all about convenience – they are widely available and take no preparation time/work. Another benefit of these snacks is that they are all healthy for a vegetarian/vegan.

Snacks: Top 3 low-calorie crunchy picks

Crispy snacks: Best pick

  • Popcorn, Indiana Sea Salt Chip’ins: ‘Popcorn’ chips are the hottest new snacks in the chip aisle. They are made with simple, all natural ingredients: corn, sunflower oil, and sea salt. They are ‘popped’ instead of baked and have an extra crispy texture. These crunchy snacks are whole-grain based and gluten-free. They come in a variety of other flavors, such as Classic BBQ and White Cheddar. A 1-oz. serving of the Sea Salt Chip’ins provides 120 calories, 2.5 g fat, 0 g saturated/trans fats, 22 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber and 230 mg sodium. For an extra nutrition boost, make a homemade salsa for dipping with diced tomato, red onion, jalapeno or Serrano pepper, lime juice, chopped cilantro and a dash of pepper, sea salt and cumin (optional) to taste.

Nutty snacks: Top choice

  • Blue Diamond Oven Roasted Almonds: These oven roasted almond snacks come in many flavors, sweet flavors, such as butter toffee and cinnamon brown sugar and savory flavors, such as plain and sea salt. Nuts, in general, make for healthy snacks. A 1-oz. serving of the sea salt oven roasted almonds provides 170 calories, 15 g fat (only 1 g saturated fat), 5 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber and 135 mg sodium. In addition to being naturally (nearly) sugar-free, these almond snacks are nutrient-rich. One serving is a good/excellent source of vitamin E, riboflavin (B2), phosphorus, copper, magnesium and manganese.

Protein-rich vegan snacks: Nutrition beyond compare

  • Steamed or boiled soybeans (in the pod) with sea salt: this snack only takes a small amount of preparation. You’ll need 1/4 lb. fresh soybeans or 4 ounces frozen (bagged); Kosher or sea salt and rice crackers (these make a nice accompaniment). In a pot of boiling water, add the soybeans and cook until they are bright green (about 5 minutes). Drain and refresh in cold water. Sprinkle with salt and serve with a couple of rice crackers. A 1-cup serving of prepared soybeans (without salt or crackers) provides 189 calories, 8 g fat (only 1 g saturated), 16 g carbohydrates, a whopping 17 g of protein and 8 g dietary fiber (roughly 1/3 of your daily requirement) and 7 mg sodium (naturally occurring). Soybeans are nutrition superstars. In addition to being an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, they are high in iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc, potassium, folate, vitamins C, K and others…you can’t go wrong with soybeans as snacks are rarely this naturally nutritious!

 

Is It Right For You? Choosing a Diet Book/Plan

Successful weight loss means making small changes toward a healthy lifestyle. Make sure your weight loss plan is right for you.

Ask yourself these questions; does it include:

• Foods from all ‘food groups’ and sub-categories?
• At least the minimum number of servings from each group?
• Foods you will enjoy eating for the rest of your life (it should not be a ‘short-term’ fix.
• Foods you can buy at the supermarket?
• Some of your favorite foods?
• Foods that fit your budget and lifestyle?
• Regular physical activity or exercise?

If the answer is “yes” to all the questions, your weight loss plan may be right for you.