Mediterranean diet gets a prairie makeover

EDMONTON – Two nutrition researchers from the University of Alberta have come up with a prairie-friendly version of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

It’s called the Pure Prairie Eating Plan and is a 28-day guide that’s meant to be simple and accessible.

The original Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, as well as some ingredients not native to the prairies – like olive oil.

“Well, here in Alberta, olive oil is fairly expensive and not always the most readily accessible – but canola oil is,” said Dr. Rhonda Bell.

She says canola oil is just as heart-healthy as olive oil.

And since the prairies also don’t have the luxury of having a huge selection of fresh fish, the Pure Prairie Eating Plan has another tweak, perfect for all those Albertans who love their beef.

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“Red meat is one that in the Mediterranean diet is highlighted as something to choose only in very small quantities and not very often and red meat has gotten kind of a bad rap,” Bell explained.

“But in fact, red meat has some important, very important nutrients. And depending on how much you eat and how often you eat it, it can be part of a diet.”

In addition to prairie foods like eggs, milk, and barley, the plan even allows for Tostito chips and salsa as one of its snacks, as well as a glass of wine with dinner.

“But again, it fits into the whole day’s menu,” Dr. Cathy Chan said.

The plan meets the requirements of the Canada Food Guide, as well as the Canadian Diabetes Association.

And when tested on about 85 people with Type 2 Diabetes, participants reportedly showed improvements in weight, waist size, plus blood levels of glucose, cholesterol and lipids.

The researchers think that might be because their plan can help people make better choices, without depriving themselves of the foods they know and love.

“They see their own diet patterns reflected in this and they think, ‘wow, yeah,'” Bell said. “‘This is a way I could eat. This is something I could do for a long period of time, This makes sense to me.'”

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You can buy the book through the Pure Prairie website for about $20. Proceeds go towards future research projects.

With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News