Monday, 1 October 2018

The Meditteranean Diet

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET




Mediterranean diet and its benefits



The history and tradition of the Mediterranean diet come from the historic eating and social patterns of the regions around southern Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain.


The Mediterranean diet has long been one of the healthiest diets known to man. But it’s not just a diet or even a way of eating … it’s really a way of life. Because for thousands of years people living along the Mediterranean coast have indulged in a high-fiber diet of fruits and vegetables, also including quality fats and proteins and sometimes a glass of locally made wine to complete a meal, too. Meanwhile, this diet has gotten a reputation for disease prevention and even “enjoyable” weight manageable.

Starting in Italy thousands of years ago and spreading to Greece, Spain and other areas around the Mediterranean, this diet is now successful all over the world for promoting health and longevity. While it’s always existed, even before books and studies were dedicated to it, the diet really began to take hold around the world in the 1990s, when a Harvard University doctor showcased it as a diet useful for improving heart health, losing weight fast and easily and clearing up other health issues.



What  foods make up the Mediterranean  diet ?


The Mediterranean eating pattern is based on traditional diets of Crete, Greece and Southern Italy. The general pattern consists of: lots of vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and wholegrain cereal products. It also contains moderate amounts of poultry, fish and nuts and low fat dairy foods. Red meat is eaten less often usually once a week.


Benefits of the Mediterranean diet


Studies show that  people living around the Mediterranean suffer less from heart diseases than those who live in the UK and North of Europe. These results have lead researchers to investigate whether the Mediterranean diet is a good contribution in improving health including helping to protect our bodies from heart and circulatory diseases and  managing cholesterol levels.

Also,  research findings have demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality as well as overall mortality. The Mediterranean diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

For these reasons, most if not all major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases.



The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:



• Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts

• Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil

• Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods

• Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month

• Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week

• Getting plenty of exercise


Eating the Mediterranean diet does not mean you have to follow every aspect of it. This is due to the serving numbers varying on body size, activity levels and overall calorie needs. Including foods from your own culinary heritage can also be important. 

Certain African-Caribbean and Asian eating patterns are similar to the Mediterranean eating pattern as they focus on eating more plant-based sources of fats and proteins.

Lastly, eating a Mediterranean diet may not be right for everyone and therefore, if you have an existing health conditions such as  diseases caused by allergies and intolerances, it's best to follow your GPs advice. 


References:



   Curtis BM et al. Understanding the Mediterranean diet. Postgrad Med 112:online, 2002

   Bautista MC et al. The Mediterranean Diet: Is it cardio protective? Prog Cardiovasc Nurs 20:70-76, 2005.

   Kinney JM. Challenges to rebuilding the US Food Pyramid. Cur Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 8:1-7, 2005.

   HeartUK.org.uk 




More information about the Mediterranean Diet:
Mediterranean recipes

Why are Mediterranean diets so healthy?

What is a Mediterranean diet?

What actually is the Mediterranean diet – and does it work?

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet 'could prevent 19,000 deaths a year in UK'

Embrace Mediterranean or Nordic diets to cut disease, WHO says


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