Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Among the popular diets today is the Mediterranean diet. This diet comes from the southern Europe particularly in Crete, Greece and Southern Italy.

The Mediterranean diet started to gain popularity in the 1990s when Dr. Ancel Keys,an American scientist introduced it to the world while he was stationed in Italy.

Interestingly, Mediterranean diet is rich in fat consumption but the occurrence of hypertension, heart problems and obesity are low among the Mediterranean countries.

This is opposite to countries like America and Northern Europe where their diet consists mainly of red meat, animal fats and low in fruits and vegetables. Moreover, countries like Scandinavia, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands adopts the Mediterranean diet and have longer life expectancy compared to English speaking countries like Australia, New Zealand and America.

Mediterranean countries favors wine (which contains flavanoids, another form of antioxidants) while Northern Europe drinks beers.

The Benefits

Based on the article in of Food Technology, people who consumed plant based diets reduce the body risk toward chronic diseases and gene mutation.

Moreover, Mediterranean diet also reduces the susceptibility of stroke among high risk individuals. Another Italian study published in BMJ Open showed that people who are into the diet have better HRQL also known as Health Related Quality of Life. The reason may be from the diet that is rich in fiber and antioxidants.

People who practice Mediterranean diet are protecting their heart from diseases because the diet consists of nuts, vegetables and monosaturated fat that promote healthy heart.

It also prevents the development of Diabetes type 2 in high risk individuals. Interestingly, this diet also promotes brain health because it reduces the occurrence of damaged blood vessels in the brain. Olive oil, a common in ingredient in Mediterranean diet can boost bone strength because the oil promotes the production of serum ostecalins.

The Ingredients

The typical Mediterranean diet usually consists of:

- Beans, cereals and nuts

- Olive oil as their dietary fat

- Modest amount of fish and poultry

- Fresh fruits

- Vegetables

- Cheese and yogurt as their main source of dairy products

- Moderate amount of eggs

- Light amount of wine

- Only 8% of saturated fat

Mediterranean diet only use small amount of saturated fat in their diet and they prefers low, monosaturated fat with high fiber content in the diet.

Their diet also contains plenty of legumes such as peas, lentils, chick peas and alfalfa. The Archives of Internal Medicines also published its findings that legumes can boost glycemic control and reduce coronary heart disease.

For many people in Southern Europe, Mediterranean diet is a way of life. But for those who want to adopt to this diet, planning and establishing good eating habits is important if you want to develop it
into lifelong diet.