What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a dietary pattern that is complemented by the practice of physical exercise and the climate of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and which has multiple health benefits.
In terms of diet, the Mediterranean diet is based on ingredients from local agriculture in countries with a Mediterranean climate, mainly Spain and Italy. It can be summarised as reducing the consumption of meat and carbohydrates in favour of more vegetable foods and monounsaturated fats.
Basic foodstuffs that make up the company
Among the recommended ingredients are vegetables and legumes, fruit, fish, white meat, pasta, rice and nuts, as well as the consumption of wine in moderation. Another of the most recommended products is olive oil, which, thanks to its oleic acid and vegetable fats, reduces the risk of suffering from obstructions in the arteries, and has a high content of carotenes and vitamin E. The Mediterranean diet promotes the consumption of olive oil compared to other types of oil and especially compared to butter. In this food pattern, products such as red meat, sweets and eggs are scarce.
The Mediterranean diet also takes into account the typical recipes of these places, made with seasonal products, as well as the traditional ways of cooking and other cultural factors such as the habit of sharing meals with family or friends, traditions and celebrations.
Mediterranean dietOlive oil is one of the essential pillars on which the Mediterranean diet is based.
The health benefits of this diet are most significant when combined with physical exercise. Exercise should be moderate, but if possible should be done for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If it is difficult to do so for reasons of time, it should be done as regularly as possible. Options such as brisk walking, running, swimming or cycling are advisable, but any other sport or activity that helps burn calories and fat, as well as optimal physical maintenance, can also be used. Thus, it helps to lose weight, control blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia, and delay cognitive deterioration. Regular exercise also offers protection against chronic diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
In addition to helping to control weight and increase the sense of physical well-being, following the Mediterranean diet improves the functioning of various organs, such as the kidney and heart. It has also been found that the death rate from cancer is lower among those who practice it than in northern European or American countries, which tend to abuse fast food, convenience foods and fat.
This dietary pattern, which has been passed down from generation to generation over several centuries in the Mediterranean regions, has evolved and embraced new foods and modes of preparation, but maintains the properties and characteristics that make it a model of healthy living, and which can be practiced by people of all ages and conditions. The products are easy to obtain and prepare, and there are countless recipes, both simple and more elaborate, with which to get the most out of this diet. Moreover, their importance in the well-being of individuals is not limited to the fact that it is a varied, healthy and balanced diet; it must also be taken into account that their low content in saturated fats and sugars, and their abundance of vitamins and fibre contribute to their richness in antioxidants.
Risks of the Mediterranean diet
Despite its advantages, following the Mediterranean diet strictly can lead to reduced levels of iron and calcium because you consume fewer meat and dairy products. Therefore, you can consult your doctor if you need to take any supplements or specific products rich in these minerals. As for wine, it is advisable to drink it during meals and always in moderation, but it is not essential, so it can be avoided if its ingestion poses any risk to health.