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TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - FEBRUARY 21: A bowl of hummous is served with olive oil, falafel balls and sprinkled with chopped parsley alongside fresh-baked pita bread, olives, a fresh onion, red chili paste and chili and lemon juice February 21, 2006 in a restaurant in Tel Aviv. Chick peas, the basis of both falafel and hummous, and olive oil are staple foods in many Mediterranean countries. The Mediterranean diet, a term used to broadly describe the eating habits of the people of the region, is widely believed to be responsible for the low rates of chronic heart disease in the populations of the 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo Illustration by David Silverman/Getty Images)

For the last four years, the Mediterranean diet has been named “best overall diet” by “U.S. News and World Report,” thanks to research showing it may help lower the risk of diseases and dementia. It’s recommended for its heart-healthy foods and people like that it allows for the occasional glass of red wine, but according to the New York Post, it seems the Mediterranean diet also has its downsides. Experts warn it could potentially harm fertility and weaken the immune system, but only if it’s not done right.

Researchers from the University of Oslo in Norway compared the effects of the Mediterranean diet with the typical Western diet in a small study. After a week of eating the diet of their choice, which food diaries show were low in fruits, veggies and wine, participants were switched to the Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of produce, whole grains, fish and healthy fats, like olive oil and nuts. And it turns out, they were eating a lot more chemicals as a result.

Urine samples contained higher levels of chemicals when eating the Mediterranean diet, especially two key ingredients – insecticide and organophosphate. But those pesticides were only seen in those who ate traditionally farmed foods. Participants who ate organic foods that were grown without pesticides didn’t have the same contaminants. Researchers explain that conventionally grown produce and grains are some of the main sources of environmental contaminants in our diet and since the Mediterranean diet is based on those foods, those eating it have a “ten times higher intake of these contaminants than if their diet had been based on foods cultivated organically.”

Source: New York Post