The Mediterranean Diet

I would like to introduce you to a diet which is full of variety and can have very positive and long lasting implications for your health. It’s called the “Mediterranean diet”. Many dieticians and health experts agree it’s one of the best diets in the world. It’s not really a diet program as much as a collection of different eating habits that people in the Mediterranean region have traditionally followed for thousands of years. Several studies have illustrated that those in the Mediterranean region are less likely to die of chronic diseases in comparison to their European counterparts. Also it’s interesting to observe that many of the countries with the world’s longest life expectancy include Andorra, San Marino, Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, Israel, and Greece – they are all in the Mediterranean region. Within these countries food varieties will differ due to the diversity of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Nevertheless there are a number of key elements that are seen to attribute to the success of the Mediterranean diet:

Olive Oil

The use of olive oil is often seen as one of the key components of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is totally natural and preserves the taste, smell, minerals and vitamins of the olive fruit. It’s the only oil that can be freshly pressed and consumed as it is – without any form of processing. It is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids (which is good for the heart) and reduces the use of saturated fat in your diet. In the Mediterranean diet, it’s exclusively used as an alternative to butter or margarine both for cooking and dressing food. Olive oil is a good source of vitamin E which is a natural antioxidant. Antioxidants help to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of coronary disease. Olive oil also helps to increase in the absorption of several vitamins including vitamins A, D, and K. Additionally olive oil promotes cellular growth, speeds healing, helps the metabolism and is good for the skin and hair.

Natural Unprocessed Foods

The Mediterranean diet consists of mainly natural and unprocessed foods. Much of it comes from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds. A high quantity of fruit and vegetables in the diet is known to be a great deterrent of cancer and heart disease because of the vitamins and antioxidants they contain.

Fish

The use of oily fish is very common in the Mediterranean diet. Fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, tuna which contain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are healthy because they help to protect your heart. Oily fish helps in lowering triglycerides (the chemical form of fat in the body) and provide an anti-inflammatory effect which is good for the blood and heart. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish also improve parameters of autonomic function which include heart rate variability.

An active lifestyle

One of the issues that we have today is that while modern transport gives us convenience and saves us time, it also removes some of the basic exercise that we might receive by walking. In many of the smaller towns and communities in the Mediterranean regions where vehicles may not be as easily available, walking and manual labour such as farming can be a common part of life. It’s interesting that in Biblical times it wasn’t uncommon for Jesus or the people of that day to walk dozens of miles to work or visit neighbouring communities – for most this would be more than ample exercise for the body!

Moderate use of certain foods

A number of foods are used in moderation. For example the use of red meat is not a daily occurrence and fish can often be substituted in its place though it is also used in moderation. Also full fat cheese and yogurt is used in moderation. Basically nothing is over done or over consumed.

The key to the Mediterranean diet is not in the individual foods or habits themselves as much as the power that is harnessed when they are used collectively. The combination of healthy eating, physical exercise and sunshine all help to contribute to the success of the Mediterranean diet.

God bless and protect
Chidi

www.thetotalman.com

Quote of the week:
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” - La Rochefoucauld

 

 Home | Site Map | © 2004-2006 www.thetotalman.com