Background: The Mediterranean diet has been the most highly recommended diet by healthcare providers in the past decade. Current research has proven the Mediterranean diet benefits several aspects of health including decreased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and dementia. Despite increased awareness of these benefits, most patients still do not adhere to this diet. Multiple barriers may exist, but one such area that has not been well explored is improving adherence with cooking classes. The purpose of this review is to investigate how increased culinary skills correlates with increased adherence to a Mediterranean diet.
Methods: An exhaustive search of online medical literature was performed using MEDLINE-Ovid, Web of Science, CINAHL, and Google Scholar. Keywords used included: Mediterranean diet, diet adherence, and cooking skills. Search results were screened with eligibility criteria. Studies were appraised and assessed with GRADE.
Results: Two articles met eligibility criteria and were included in this systematic review. One observational study showed that children with better cooking skills had greater Mediterranean diet adherence. One RCT demonstrated that diabetics participating in a Mediterranean diet cooking class had more improved adherence and HbA1c when compared to a control group that received a standard nutrition education course. There are some consistent results showing the direct relationship between culinary skills and diet adherence. The overall quality of the two studies is low due to study limitations. Further studies can minimize these limitations to improve quality of evidence.
Conclusion: Results suggest that subsequent clinical trials are warranted to prove cooking classes can improve Mediterranean diet adherence; however, the two studies discussed in this review show support. Participating in a cooking class may or may not affect long-term Mediterranean diet adherence, but there is no harm in attempting this intervention. Cooking classes are another beneficial recommendation for patients who have difficulties adhering to a healthy diet.
Keywords: Mediterranean diet, diet adherence, cooking classes, culinary skills
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