The Mediterranean diet, and its multiple benefits, are an ally for the health and wellbeing of consumers, starting with the food we put on the table. Grains, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, fish and fruit are just some of the foods recommended in the Mediterranean diet to give the organism most of the substances that are vital for maximum performance.
The importance of the Mediterranean diet has also been endorsed by Unesco, which has put it on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
But what is meant exactly by ‘Mediterranean diet’?
We should first of all point out that in this case ‘diet’ does not refermerely to the set of food sand ingredients that a human being eats to live or to a specific medical prescription with therapeutic aims.
The meaning is much wider and encompasses nuances of the word ‘diet’ that are nearer the way it was conceived in the ancient medicinal tradition of Greece. The Mediterranean diet is thus a system of ‘life rules or good habits that aim to ensure that a person enjoys optimum health. Diet is defined as an integral and decisive part of a healthy and balanced life style that is influenced by the culture of a place, the knowledge and competencies of its people and ancient traditions and practices.
The adjective Mediterranean gives this type of diet a geographical location that is a genuine heritage that was born and developed in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea like Italy, Greece, Spain and Morocco.
In addition to ‘cultural’ excellence, the Mediterranean diet has nutritional properties that are very beneficial for the health of our bodies.
What kind of foods are included in the Mediterranean diet?
- In the Mediterranean diet cereal grains, cereal grain products, seasonal fruit and vegetables are highly consumed.
- Legumes and fish are also very important where as foods that contain saturated fats, cholesterol and animal proteins such as cheese, meat and eggs are limited.
- The secret is striking the right balance between foods so that there is a variation between ingredients that are rich in fiber, antioxidant substances, vitamins and unsaturated fats.
- The condiment of choice in the Mediterranean diet is extra virgin olive oil.
- Sugars and ingredients like butter and coffee are used in moderation.
- In the Mediterranean diet red wine is recommended.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet:
- The foods recommended by the Mediterranean diet are rich in vitamins and have an antioxidant effect that helps prevent serious diseases such as cancer.
- Adopting a Mediterranean diet enables the right balance to be maintained between the quantity of calories in the foods and individual energy requirements, keeping the metabolism in equilibrium and helping to maintain a constant body weight.
- The contribution of good fats like omega 3 and 6, unsaturated fats and fats of vegetable, lecithin and phytosterol origin also help to combat the increase of triglycerides in the blood and to lower cholesterol, which is advantageous for the cardiovascular system. These fats help reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
- The Mediterranean diet also contributes to a longer lifespan, providing tissues with long-term protection against deterioration. Specifically, certain studies have shown that telomers, elements that help to protect the chromosomes and their structure, are reinforced and benefits the entire DNA.
- The nutritional substances contained in olive oil have outstanding antioxidant effects and in particular help prevent diseases of the nervous system like Alzheimer’s.
- Obtaining most of one’s proteins from vegetables helps the liver and kidneys and improves the process of eliminating toxins and substances that are harmful for the organism.
- The Mediterranean diet recommends a balanced consumption of fruit and carbohydrates. This healthy equilibrium of food keeps sugar levels stable and limits the problems caused by diabetes.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are systemic; they don’t just help one part of the body but the entire organism profits from its positive effects.