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-Mediterranean Style Diet versus Standard American Diet-

What do you think of when you hear the term “diet”? Many people may think of a diet as a temporary way of eating, usually smaller amounts of food and different foods than they would normally eat (dieting).

Diets that fit this description may include the elimination diet, elemental diet, grapefruit diet, detox diets like juice fasting or master cleanses, the cabbage soup diet or Beverly Hills Diet, to name just a few.

However, the term diet simply refers to what you choose to eat and drink on a daily basis. When we look at different diets, we can see how these eating patterns play a significant role in an individual’s overall health and wellbeing.

Let’s take a look at two popular eating patterns (diets) today…

Mediterranean Style Diet

Do a quick search of the Mediterranean style diet, and you will find thousands of full text, peer-reviewed journals articles on this topic. One such journal article states that the Mediterranean diet includes a high consumption of plant foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes), a moderate alcohol intake, fish consumption, and low meat intake.

Of course, there are variations to what might be considered a Mediterranean style diet. However, this type of eating pattern refers to a diet that consists of high intakes of unprocessed, whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, unrefined grains, greater amounts of monounsaturated fats (like extra virgin olive oil) to saturated fats (like animal fat), a moderate intake of healthy fish (such as wild-caught salmon), and low intakes of dairy, and meats (including poultry).

According to current research, the benefits of consuming a Mediterranean style diet include reduced risk for chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, thrombotic stroke, cancer (breast and colorectal specifically), a reduced incidence of type II diabetes, reduced hip fractures, a reduced mortality, longer leukocyte telomere length (a marker for biological aging), in addition to the economic (financial) advantages in savings from reduced incidence of disease management.

Standard American Diet

The American diet has changed significantly over the past several decades, as the processed-food industry and industrial agriculture have altered the way American’s eat.

The Standard American diet (also called “Western diet”) is characterized by excessive intakes of energy-dense, nutrient-deficient processed food products designed for longer shelf-life while sacrificing the nutrient content of the food in the process.

The Standard American diet (SAD) consists of high intakes of processed and red meats, fried foods, refined grains, highly processed food products, sugary drinks, desserts, and is low in vegetables, fruits, phytonutrients, and fiber.

As most American’s consume the SAD, they are opting for convenience and taste over health as they choose the energy-dense, nutrient-deficient food items each day.

The Standard American diet (Western diet) is associated with America’s current obesity epidemic, insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and cancer, among other disease states.

As other cultures adopt the SAD and increase their consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-deficient food products, we see an increase in these diseases associated with our SAD, such as obesity and diabetes.

Much more can be said about these two eating styles or dietary patterns and the abundance of diets that have come and gone.

However, I have intentionally kept this information brief to highlight the types of foods that make up these two diets (eating patterns) to show the distinct health advantages of consuming more unrefined, whole foods while minimizing or eliminating the highly refined and processed food products so prevalent today.

The research today shows us that when we consume a balanced and varied diet of unrefined, whole foods (Mediterranean style diet), we support our bodies with proper nutrition which leads to better overall health. Conversely, when we consume a diet that is energy-dense and nutrient-deficient, like the Standard American diet, we harm the body and disease occurs.

Genesis 1:29 “And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”

Genesis 9:3-4 “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”


Mediterranean Diet

Trichopoulou, A., Martínez-González, M.,A., Tong, T. Y. N., Forouhi, N. G., Khandelwal, S., Prabhakaran, D., . . . de Lorgeril, M. (2014). Definitions and potential health benefits of the mediterranean diet: Views from experts around the world. BMC Medicine, 12, 112. Retrieved from Crous-Bou, M., Fung, T. T., Prescott, J., Julin, B., Du, M., Sun, Q., . . . De Vivo, I. (2014). Mediterranean diet and telomere length in nurses' health study: Population based cohort study. BMJ : British Medical Journal (Online), 349 Retrieved from Gerber, M., & Hoffman, R. (2015). The mediterranean diet: Health, science and society. The British Journal of Nutrition, 113, S4-S10. Retrieved from Radd-Vagenas, S., Kouris-Blazos, A., Singh, M. F., M.D., & Flood, V. M., PhD. (2017). Evolution of mediterranean diets and cuisine: Concepts and definitions. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 26(5), 749-763. Retrieved from Abdullah, M. M. H., Jones, J. P. H., & Jones, P. J. H. (2015). Economic benefits of the mediterranean-style diet consumption in canada and the united states. Food & Nutrition Research, 59 Retrieved from Raynor, H. A., Kilanowski, C. K., Esterlis, I., & Epstein, L. H. (2002). A cost-analysis of adopting a healthful diet in a family-based obesity treatment program. American Dietetic Association.Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(5), 645-56. Retrieved from Morton, D., Mitchell, B., Kent, L., Egger, G., & Hurlow, T. (2016). Lifestyle as medicine - past precepts for present problems. Australian Family Physician, 45(4), 248-249. Retrieved from

Standard American Diet

Canella, D. S., Levy, R. B., Martins, A. P., Claro, R. M., Moubarac, J., Baraldi, L. G., . . Monteiro, C. A. (2014). Ultra-processed food products and obesity in Brazilian households (2008-2009). PLoS One, 9(3) doi: Hyman, M. A. (2009). The ecology of eating: The power of the fork. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 15(4), 14-5. Retrieved from Ross, A. P., Darling, J. N., & Parent, M. B. (2015). Excess intake of fat and sugar potentiates epinephrine-induced hyperglycemia in male rats. Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, 29(3), 329-337. Retrieved from

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