Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet has proven to be one of the most healthy and balanced diets in the world. Its main elements are vegetables, fish, olive oil and wine in moderation. There are many variations of Mediterranean diet, since the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea are many. Mediterranean Diet owes its huge popularity to many researches showing that people who live around the Mediterranean have higher average life and correspondingly less likely to have heart problems or other chronic diseases.

Key features:
• Abundant fiber (bread, vegetables, legumes and nuts)
• Olive oil
• Average to low consumption of fish, poultry, eggs and milk
• Low consumption of red meat
• Wine during the meal.
The benefits:
• Thanks to the variety of foods of the Mediterranean diet there are many possibilities. A food can be cooked in many different ways such as herbs that can be made salad, pie fillings, or accompanying a main course.
• Enjoyable and healthy. Legumes, vegetables and cereals in combination with olive oil and herbs such as oregano, thyme, etc. provide us with a healthy diet that is parallel and very tasty.
• Shield for our health. It is now scientifically proven that those who follow the Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop coronary heart disease compared with those who follow a different diet. Apart from its beneficial effect on the heart, the Mediterranean diet is associated with protection from diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. The rich fiber that cereals have, have protective effects against cancer in the colon, breast, endometrial and prostate. Fruits and vegetables, when eaten in abundance, appear to have anticancer activity, in the digestive system. Also, researchers point out that the effect of ingredients and foods of the Mediterranean diet are due to their combination rather than their individual consumption.
• The antioxidants found in abundance and phenolic acids (fruit, vegetables and olive oil) combat cell aging. This is the basic secret of the Mediterranean diet which affects longevity.

The basic principle is: "Eat what is natural and colorful, and beautifies your plate".
Olive oil
Olive oil is the basis of the Mediterranean diet, and is the healthiest oil, thanks to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids.  According to scientific research, olive oil as an ingredient of daily diet provides:
· Reduction of total and bad cholesterol
· Protects against heart disease
· Creates a predisposition to lower blood pressure
· It seems to guard against cancer
· The use of olive oil in frying is recommended over any other oil or fat, as it lasts longer. But it is better eaten raw and added at the end of cooking.

The Pyramid
The base of the pyramid consists of foods such as cereals and their products (bread, pasta, rice), to be consumed on a daily basis, as they provide us with energy through the carbohydrates that they contain. These foods are naturally low in fat. Especially when they are whole grain, they provide enough fiber, which help to improve bowel function and reduce cholesterol.
The group of fruits and vegetables is a good source of antioxidants and other vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating fruits and vegetables act protective on the risk of cardiovascular disease and various cancers.
Dairy products are a source of both minerals and vitamins, such as calcium, protein and high nutritional value.
Calcium is necessary not only for building strong bones during the growth of the body, but also to maintain bone mass during adulthood.
Also, a diet rich in calcium reduces the risk of damage to bones in later life and especially in women during menopause and beyond. Consuming low-fat dairy products may have health benefits, because these foods contain all the beneficial ingredients of milk, but they are also low in saturated fats (which have been associated with cardiovascular and other diseases).
Fish, especially oily, contain large amounts of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, considered to significantly reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease. Moreover, they contain proteins of high biological value and various minerals.
Poultry provide the body with protein of high nutritional value and iron easily absorbed by the body.
Eggs are rich in proteins of high biological value, vitamins and minerals.
Legumes, nuts and olives are a team of food. Legumes provide energy, have low fat, high in fiber, and are very rich in protein (but lower biological value than meat and milk) and iron (but not as resorbable form as meat).
 Nuts are generally high in monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, and many studies have shown that they can lower cholesterol levels. They are rich in fiber and vitamins (eg C), but we should avoid eating them in large quantities, because they contain many calories.
Potatoes provide energy and a relatively good source of vitamin C. But they have a high glycemic index as they are rapidly converted into glucose, (like white bread and most sweets), and so their high consumption has been associated positively with risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Desserts usually contain sugar, which consumption has been associated with decay. The best is to be consumed in moderation.
Perhaps it’s not widely known that red meat is not only beef but also pork, goat and lamb. These foods contain protein of high nutritional value, iron, very well-absorbed by the body, zinc and vitamins. They contain, however, saturated fatty acids, which have adverse health effects. Therefore, the frequency of consumption should be limited.
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