I wouldn’t classify the Mediterranean Diet as a diet but more of a lifestyle derived from vigorous and diverse culinary traditions. A way of living based on a regime that promotes lower mortality rates, lower cancer rates, decreased rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity and other chronic diseases. As a result, leading to a more holistic fulfillment of life.
According to research conducted by HALE, results indicated that people between the ages of 70-90 who adhered to the Mediterranean diet experienced 50% lower rates of heart disease, hypertension, and cancer.
Made of a tapestry of countries including Greece, Italy, Spain and France, the Mediterranean world is in essence an inland sea and as such it’s defined by the sea that lies at its heart. This geographic locality explains abundance of seafood and its sparse pastureland makes beef a rarity. Sheep, lamb and mutton not being so dependent on lush pastures, retain some prominence in the Mediterranean cuisine. Conversely, nurturing very dry lands packed with light and non-fertile soil, has naturally led the Mediterranean diet to be composed of high amounts of legumes, breads, fresh fruits and vegetables.
There are numerous studies and reports that prove the health benefits of the Mediterranean cuisine. There are high levels of monosaturated fatty acids contained in the recommended foods of the Mediterranean Diet, in addition to the high levels of fiber, vitamins, minerals and natural antioxidants.
Here are the Basic Guidelines of the Mediterranean Diet:
Get bulk intake from whole grains, legumes bread, pasta, and nuts. Primary energy fuel intake should ideally be derived from seasonally influenced complex carbohydrates, generally including legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, breads, potatoes, corn, pasta and rice
Ensure generous intakes of fresh fruits, vegetables seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices
Make olive oil a life partner (versus animal fat). Good fat, derived from fish and olive oil, is an important energy source. Studies conducted by Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos at the Harvard School of Public Health indicate a link between olive oil consumption and a lower incidence of breast cancer and osteoporosis
Consume dairy products in small amounts, usually 1 oz of cheese or 1 cup of yogurt daily. Eggs sparingly, up to 4 eggs per week
Fish or poultry, 1-3 times per week, usually preferred over red meat which is promoted only a few times per month
Organic natural grass-fed meats also hold a prominent part in the Greek diet pyramid. Rabbit meat has been part of the Greek diet for centuries as it provides the highest protein, full of Omega 3 fatty acids, lowest in fat, and is the most easily digested of any meat available
Use honey as the primary sweetener
Consume red wine in moderation, 1-2 glasses daily. For those who wish to avoid alcohol, other sources like grape juice or pomegranate juice are considered to be an acceptable substitute providing similar nutrients
Maintain an active lifestyle with ample exercise balanced with rest and relaxation
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