THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET: Foods, Recipes & Benefits
A way of eating based on traditional foods
Enjoying good health is basically a matter of genes. However, diet can help us maintain and improve it. Today, the Mediterranean diet has been imposed as a dietary pattern for its positive effects on health in general and specifically for its role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
In the 1960s, the population living in Crete, southern Greece and southern Italy had a life expectancy among the highest in the world, despite the limitations of medical services. Myocardial infarction is almost unknown and cancer hardly exists. This reality that has been known all over the world thanks to the Study of the Seven Countries, perhaps the main study for research on the relationship between Mediterranean Diet and Heart Disease, showed that diet, lifestyle, and environment (climate and environmental factors) are of great importance in health.
At the root of this study, the Mediterranean diet has been imposed as a dietary pattern. But we must not forget that the people of Crete or Italy had a lifestyle that was also responsible for providing their daily ration of health for body and mind. Going back to the sixties, (date in which this study was done), with its world of values and needs is impossible. But there is no doubt that our way of life and the way to deal with what happens to us affects our body.
The diet that is useful for preventing cardiovascular disease is useful for protecting health in general
Dried fruits in moderation, virgin olive oil for cooking and dressing, bluefish, half a glass of red wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals and legumes What do these foods have in common? They are beneficial for cardiovascular health, in general, by acting on cholesterol, reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (good cholesterol), which helps keep arteries in good condition.
Oil, nuts or blue fish contain unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), which are healthy fats.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, just like nuts, with clear benefits for cholesterol; bluefish is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated, whose fat reduces the tendency of blood to form clots, help control blood pressure and prevent arrhythmias.
With regard to red wine, there is no doubt that a small amount - a glass a day - at meals is healthy for the heart and arteries and reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease.
Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and cancer
Diets rich in cereals, fruits, vegetables, and legumes reduce the risk of cancer. On this point, there is a general consensus among the scientific community, even though all the specific plant molecules that protect against cancers are not currently identified. For this reason, five daily rations of different colors are recommended. The variation and not always take the same fruit guarantees a greater range of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
One component that is identified is folic acid, having found that people who do not have enough folic acid are at increased risk of breast, colon and rectal cancer, especially if you drink too much.
Saturated fats and cancer
There is also no doubt about the effect of some saturated fats present in red meats such as veal and processed meats such as frankfurts and ham because they are the ones that have a clearer relationship with some cancers, such as Of colon. It is not necessary to eliminate these meats from the diet because they provide proteins, iron, and other important nutrients, but it is better not to take them daily.
If saturated fats can have an impact on breast cancer, research has shown that virgin olive oil and specifically one of its components, oleic acid, contributes to its prevention. There is a study led by scientist Javier Menendez, molecular biologist at the Northwestern Health Research Institute in Chicago, who has confirmed that oleic acid intake significantly reduces one of the oncogenes associated with more aggressive tumors.
Risk of diabetes
Foods associated with the Mediterranean diet reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and thus the risk of diabetes.
The consumption of minimally processed cereals, fruits, vegetables, and vegetables with a high fiber content, as well as the use of monounsaturated fats (olive oil), are also useful for improving the blood glucose level and the lipid profile of diabetics.
Diet and physical activity
As important as a healthy eating style is to maintain a physical activity. It does not have to be very intense, but often enough, just walk 30 minutes at a good pace. Not only is weight reduced. It is shown that physical exercise reduces bad cholesterol, (LDL) and increases good (HDL). In addition, it controls the level of triglycerides in the blood that are harmful. It promotes insulin activity and reduces the risk of diabetes, as well as blood pressure.