The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It features fish and poultry—lean sources of protein—over red meat.
In addition, red wine is consumed regularly but in moderate amounts.
The Mediterranean diet is well-known to protect colorectal health, but what specific elements are the healthiest is not very clear.
A new study answers this question. Researchers find that loading up on fish and fruit, and cutting back on soft drinks are the three most important things.
These three elements each is linked to a little more than 30% reduced risk of having an advanced, pre-cancerous colorectal lesion, compared to people who did not eat any of the MD components.
In contrast, low-fiber diet heavy on red meat, alcohol and high-calorie foods is associated with colorectal cancer.
The study tested 808 people who were undergoing screening or diagnostic colonoscopies but had no high risk of colorectal cancer. The fine details of their daily meals were checked.
The results showed that compared to people with clear colonoscopies, those who had advanced polyps reported fewer components of the Mediterranean diet.
Advanced polyps can be the beginning of colorectal cancer.
Furthermore, consumption of two to three components of the diet, compared to none, was associated with 50% less of advanced polyps.
Basically, the more Mediterranean diet components people consume, the lower their chances of having advanced colorectal polyps.
After controlling other dietary factors, the researchers narrowed in on high fish and fruit and low soft drinks as the best combo for reduced odds of advanced colorectal polyps.
Tips to follow the Mediterranean diet:
Replace butter and margarine with healthy oils as often as possible.
Swap out most of your red meat and get your protein from skinless chicken and turkey, fish, beans, nuts and other plants.
Aim for 3 to 8 servings of vegetables a day.
Help yourself to whole-grain bread, pasta, rice and other grains.
Snack on a handful of almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds in place of chips, cookies or other processed snack foods.
Enjoy fruit for dessert, because they are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants.
If you drink, moderate your consumption to no more than a glass or two with a meal.