In a study by the University of Michigan health system, researchers found that women could more than double their fruit and vegetable intake by not changing the amount, but the type of foods they ate. Study subjects dramatically increased their consumption of good fats, high fiber and whole grains simply by switching to the Mediterranean diet.
The six-month study divided 69 women into two groups. One group continued with their usual diet and did not receive any dietary counseling. The other group worked with registered dieticians who used an exchange list of foods that are common in a Mediterranean diet to make a plan for each participant. The exchange list included lots of healthy fats found in fish, olive oil, and avocado, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds.
The group that received counseling and ate a Mediterranean diet reached their nutritional goal within three months, and maintained the change for the duration of the study. The comparison group made little or no changes, and saw little improvement in their overall nutrition.
The study was conducted to devise an effective method for achieving the major nutrient intakes of the Greek-Mediterranean diet using American foods. It concluded that the women were able to easily and successfully change their dietary habits using commonly found ingredients when guided by a nutritional counselor.