Millennials should adopt a Mediterranean diet: expert

Professor Lluis Serra-Majem is challenging millennials to adopt the Mediterranean diet.


Professor Lluis Serra-Majem is challenging millennials to adopt the Mediterranean diet. (AAP)

Millennials are being encouraged to eat more smashed avocado on wholegrain toast as part of a push to increase the uptake of the Mediterranean diet among the younger generation.

It's regarded as one of the healthiest diets in the world, yet leading advocate of the Mediterranean diet Professor Lluis Serra-Majem is concerned young people are eating more processed, Western-style foods and red meat than older generations.

The Mediterranean diet promotes eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.

Poultry, eggs, cheese and yoghurt are eaten in moderation, while red meat is rarely eaten.

Professor Serra-Majem, President of the International Foundation of the Mediterranean Diet, says the diet's major health benefits provides protection against cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and cancer - particularly colon cancer - cognitive decline, depression, allergic and respiratory diseases, and bone diseases.

"The science behind the diet is now very strong, with large cohort studies and randomised clinical trials, like the Predimed and the Predimed Plus studies, Prof Serra-Majem said.

The diet also has a lower carbon footprint than a Western diet, an important factor for mitigating climate change, he says.

Leading Australian nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton agrees the Mediterranean Diet is an excellent way for people to improve their diets.

"The main principals really fit with all of our dietary guidelines and we have a wealth of evidence to support these aspects of the diet," Dr Stanton said.

"Australians need to improve their diet so this is an easy, pleasant and well-researched way to do it.

"I couldn't think of any reason why you wouldn't recommend this."

It's not the only way, however, to improve the diets of millennials, Dr Stanton noted.

"If people are already adopting healthy eating habits by following a Japanese-style diet, there are Asian style diets that are healthy as well, then there is no point in changing that," she said.

With obesity rates on the rise, a general overhaul of Australians' diets is needed, Dr Stanton says.

Most Australians of any age group don't eat enough from the essential five food groups, except for men who "over-do" the red meat, she said.

"We under-consume vegetables, fruit, we under-consume whole grains, we certainly under-consume either the dairy products or the alternatives to dairy products; we-under consume things like nuts and we choose too many poor quality fats instead of good quality fats like olive oil," Dr Stanton said.

"We are doing the wrong thing; we need to make changes."

Dr Stanton's advice to millennials is to "learn how to cook".

Professor Serra-Majem will discuss the challenges for the diet's uptake amongst millennials at the University of Queensland-hosted TropAg conference in Brisbane in November.

3 min read
Published 21 July 2017 at 1:12pm
Source: AAP