Why choose Mediterranean diet?

Research has shown that the health benefits of Mediterranean-style eating are numerous. The food choices in this style of eating reduce the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, because of the olive oil and fish derived fat content. Eating in this way is associated with longevity, low levels of mortality and may also help to prevent certain types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Mediterranean diet became widely known for the first time in the 1970s by the “Seven Countries Study”. It was the first systematic epidemiological study that began in 1960 under the guidance of Professor Ancel Keys of the University of Minnesota. The study examined the correlation of cardiovascular disease and lifestyle factors in the following 7 countries: USA, Netherlands, Finland, Japan, Yugoslavia, Italy and Greece.

This major investigation showed – especially when it came to the sample population of Crete from Greece, that Crete had the lowest morbidity and mortality rates. This phenomenon was attributed to diet and general lifestyle. The famous term Mediterranean diet was then introduced to the scientific and non- community.

How can i adopt Mediterranean diet?

The traditional Mediterranean diet has been illustrated in a pyramid, which you can use as a reference when following the Mediterranean diet.

On the highest point of the pyramid is meat followed by sweets, eggs, poultry and fish. These should be consumed, less often, monthly and weekly. The base of the pyramid includes the food groups which should be eaten daily. These includes cheese, yogurt, olive oil, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, vegetables, bread, pasta, rice, couscous, polenta and other whole grains. Daily physical activity is important for maintaining good health and optimal weight. Choose water to stay hydrated throughout the day and drink wine in moderation with meals.

Key components of the Mediterranean diet

Incorporating the Mediterranean way of eating into your daily life will provide you with new and exciting tastes, textures and foods. The Mediterranean diet gives emphasis on the following:

  • A high consumption of plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter and other undesirable fats with olive oil. Olive oil is mainly monounsaturated fat — a type of fat that can help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels when substituted for saturated fats or trans fats
  • Choose fish and poultry for red meat
  • Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month and make sure to keep portions small. Also avoid other high-fat and processed meats like sausages and bacon
  • Choose low-fat dairy products consumed daily in moderate amounts, like skim milk, fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese
  • Regular and moderate consumption of alcohol, in the form of red wine which has powerful antioxidant effects with meals. This equates to two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women. However, do not drink alcohol if your doctor advises you not to do so