Mediterranean diet – Benefits, allowed and prohibited foods

Mediterranean diet – Nutrition and gastronomy at the same time

The combination of health and delicacy is tough to find. The dishes in weight-loss diets are often bland and repeatedly the same combination of ingredients. The Mediterranean diet is the solution to this problem; Besides its health benefits, this diet combines spices, even allowing wine and a sweet dessert sporadically.

The basis of the Mediterranean diet is to combine food in a way that is gastronomically delicious and complies with the rules of healthy eating. If you take 5 minutes, you will understand the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, how to do it, and what foods are allowed and prohibited.

How to do the Mediterranean diet?

In the Mediterranean diet, the foods that should predominate are vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals and pseudo-cereals, nuts, olive oil, spices, and roots. These should make up about half of the total food.

Meats occupy the second place in the Mediterranean diet with a high content of Omega-3: wild salmon, sardines, tuna, and the fruits of the sea are allowed. Dairy and cheese are foods that should be in a lower proportion; approximately 15% of the total daily calories can come from this type of food.

The touch of the Mediterranean diet is that red wine is allowed in moderate amounts and high-quality red meat, and a sweet dessert is allowed once a week. This is one of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet that I like the most – you do not have to be completely strict when doing it.

History of the Mediterranean diet

The term Mediterranean diet was used for the first time by the American dietician and nutritionist Ancel Keys in the 1940s (1). In the 1990s, this diet boomed and today remains one of the most popular diets in the world.

It was not initially created as a diet to lose weight. Still, it was adapted according to the eating habits of the inhabitants of the northeast of Spain, the south of France, Portugal, Greece, and other countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. Unlike other diets, such as the ketogenic diet (which is born as a treatment in medicine), the Mediterranean diet arises from the social habits of European countries.

Mediterranean diet – Types according to the country

Different Mediterranean diets depend on the region and, therefore, the foods available. The types of the Mediterranean diet can be divided by zone: in the Italian, whole-grain pasta and red meats should predominate; in the Spanish, fish meats and brown rice. While in Greek, they are the fruits of the sea, cereals, and pseudo-cereals.

It is essential to know that this type of diet arose during the time that the European post-war times. At this time, they were forced to adjust their resources. Italians, for example, called the Mediterranean diet “Cucina Povera,” or poor man’s kitchen in Spanish.

Years later, the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet were confirmed. The proportions of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are similar to those recommended by international organizations. (FAO, WHO).

Mediterranean diet: Foods allowed and forbidden What can you eat?

The foods that should be predominant in the Mediterranean diet are:

  • Vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, broccoli, squash, apple, grapes, aubergines, peppers)
  • Whole grains and pseudo-cereals (brown rice, buckwheat, brutal wheat)
  • Olive oil
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, beans)
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts)
  • Seafood (wild salmon, sardines, tuna, seafood)
  • Spices (oregano, mushrooms, cinnamon, mint, thyme, tarragon)

Foods that can be eaten in moderate quantities are:

  • Dairy (cheeses, milk, yogurts, butter)
  • Kefir
  • Wine (1 glass at dinner)
  • Red meat
  • Chicken meat
  • Eggs

The foods prohibited in the Mediterranean diet are:

  • Sugars and refined flours
  • Processed foods (snacks, chips, industrial cookies)
  • Processed meat products (sausages, pates, salami)
  • Fast food
  • Sugary soft drinks

Benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Below is a list of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet:

  1. Lose weight in a healthy way
  2. Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
  3. Less anxiety and stress
  4. Less chance of developing Alzheimer’s
  5. Regulate cholesterol
  6. Lower chance of cancer
  7. Fewer autoimmune and inflammatory diseases
  8. Lose weight in a healthy way

Research from more than 10 European countries found an association between reducing obesity rates and people who followed the Mediterranean diet. (5) This is one of the benefits of consuming large amounts of high-quality vegetables, lean meats, and fats.

  1. Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases

In a study where five years of research were compiled, it is stated that one of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet is to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. According to this report, this type of diet reduces the probability of heart attack by up to 30% and reduces mortality by 7%. It is believed that the leading cause of this fact is the high contribution of healthy fats.

  1. Less anxiety and stress

The rule of allowing a glass of wine at dinner and a dessert every so often makes a person relax and can maintain this type of diet for long periods. It is one of the methods to control cortisol levels.

  1. Lower probability of developing Alzheimer’s

One of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet confirmed is a significant reduction in developing Alzheimer’s and dementia in older adults. This has been verified only in those who have carried out a diet of this type for long periods. (5)

  1. Regulate cholesterol

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet in regulating cholesterol have been confirmed. (5) Eliminate saturated and trans fats from processed foods and transition to healthy fats such as olive oil; it is the basis for lowering cholesterol.

  1. Less chance of cancer

Another benefit of the Mediterranean diet that arouses more curiosity in the scientific community is a lower probability of cancer. In a study where the data of more than one and a half million people were analyzed. The results confirmed significant differences in the likelihood and mortality of cancer in those people with greater adherence to this type of diet. (5)

  1. Strengthen the immune system

The last benefit of the Mediterranean diet is improving the endothelial system. This is related to a lower probability of having autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. An increase in the synthesis of endothelial progenitors has been confirmed in just four weeks of adhering to this type of diet. If your goal is to strengthen the immune system, you should try this diet.

ABSTRACT

  • The Mediterranean diet combines nutrition with gastronomy. This diet incorporates healthy fats and spices with foods of high nutritional value.
  • The foods allowed in the Mediterranean diet are vegetables, fruits, fish and seafood, whole grains, vegetable fats, and spices.
  • To a lesser extent, dairy, red meat, and chicken are allowed.
  • Desserts with honey and a glass of wine are sporadic.
  • The foods prohibited in the Mediterranean diet are refined flours and sugars, soft drinks, meat, and processed foods.
  • The scientific community has proved the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. These range from significantly reducing your chance of getting cancer to losing weight healthily.

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