The MediterrAsian diet: Creator of latest global healthy diet & recipes

Trudy Thelander and Ric Watson

Miami is known as a mecca for healthy eating, and the hottest new healthy cuisine trend is the MediterrAsian diet, which combines the best elements of traditional Mediterranean and Asian eating practices. It’s been the inspiration behind the opening of two MediterrAsian restaurants, including MILA, headed by Michelin star chef Michael Michaelidis.

Where did the MediterrAsian diet originate from?

Although the MediterrAsian diet is proving popular in Miami, its origins lie closer to home. In fact, the theory of the MediterrAsian diet was developed in Australia over a decade ago by passionate home cook Trudy Thelander and her Kiwi partner Ric Watson.

Trudy was first introduced to authentic Asian cuisine by her sister-in-law as a teenager, and was left with a life-long addiction to Asian food. Ric, on the other hand, credits a Mediterranean diet with helping him fully recover from a near-fatal motorcycle accident. When the two foodies met, Trudy introduced Ric to Asian cooking, and Ric introduced Trudy to Mediterranean cooking, and they ended up bonding over “pad Thai and paella”, says Trudy.

The pair were inspired to base their own personal diets around traditional Mediterranean and Asian foods. This had such a positive impact on their health that they decided to launch MediterrAsian.com to share their recipes and spread the word about the health benefits.

The site was soon named as one of the best new websites by Yahoo!, and was selected as a ‘Hot site’ by USA Today, who described MediterrAsian.com as “An elegant and joyous site”. This led to the publication of their cookbook and lifestyle guide, The MediterrAsian Way.

How beneficial to the body is the MediterrAsian diet?

The book attracted a lot of attention in the US where it received a recommendation from the prestigious Library Journal and was named as one of the best cookbooks of the year by Southern California’s oldest daily newspaper, the Santa Barbara News-Press. It also created interest in the scientific and medical communities—interest that has grown steadily to-date.

In fact, in 2013 a groundbreaking study by German scientists from the University of Kiel found that a MediterrAsian diet is abundant in potent antioxidants called polyphenols, which can slow cellular aging, reduce inflammation and boost metabolism.

Following the study, the scientists concluded that a MediterrAsian diet combining the polyphenol-rich foods of the Mediterranean diet and the Asian diet, “may be a promising dietary strategy in preventing chronic diseases, thereby ensuring health and healthy aging”.

In 2016 Dr. Mariangela Rondanelli and Italian scientists from the University of Pavia conducted a study into the benefits of combining Mediterranean and Asian foods to improve cholesterol levels. They found that the diet boosted “good” HDL cholesterol, and reduced heart disease risk. The findings were published in the scientific journal BioMed Research International.

A number of nutrition experts now recommend the diet for reducing heart disease risk, including clinical nutritionist Amirah Rahmat, who recommended the MediterrAsian diet to improve cholesterol levels on the official Fitbit blog in 2021. The MediterrAsian diet is now becoming more widely known in Australia, with respected media sources dedicating space to sharing the benefits of this diet, and medical doctors referring to the diet on national TV.