Today the Mediterranean diet has become one of the most researched diets in the world. These studies have shown that consumers of this diet were 30% less likely to have cardiovascular disease. This diet plays a vital role in the maintenance and optimal functioning of immune cells.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is not a specific diet plan or diet program. In fact, people in these regions culturally love to eat and do not believe in counting calories or cutting down food portions. Instead, this diet is a multitude of eating habits that are traditionally followed by the people living in this particular region. At least 16 countries are bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and food habits vary between these countries according to culture, ethnic background and religion. But there are a few characteristics common to them all such as:
- No calorie counting: as mentioned earlier, people from the Mediterranean regions are hearty eaters and do not worry about calories. They love to eat and indeed eat like kings! This carefree nature is also known to help with your physical health, a philosophy the people of the place believe in a happy mind equals a healthy body.
- Fresh food: This diet is focused on fresh ingredients and seasonal produce. The olives, cheeses, nuts, tomatoes and all the other veggies are fresh when added to the meals. A high intake of fresh fruit and vegetables is known to be protective against both heart disease and cancer because of the antioxidants they contain
- Extensive use of olive oil: People from here love using olive oil in all of their dishes. Studies show that 30% of the fat intake in consumers of this diet comes from olive oil. The olive oil is used in salads dressings; baked dishes also dipped with fresh bread with hummus. The olive oil not only gives you a strong flavour but also it’s proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fat, which is protective against heart disease, possibly because it displaces saturated fat from the diet. Olive oil is also a source of antioxidants, including vitamin E.
- Little consumption of meat: The diet contains moderate amounts of fish and vast portions of fruits and vegetables but fewer amounts of meats, especially chicken and red meat. Oily fish such as sardines which contain omega-3 fats which are particularly beneficial to heart health because of their anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory properties, which keeps blood flowing smoothly.
- Wine consumption: It’s prevalent to have a glass of wine with every meal in the Mediterranean regions. They drink small amounts and usually with their meals. This tends to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Studies have shown that wine consumption is good for the heart and preferably red wine over white wine.
- Active lifestyle: Apart from the food, the people from this region have a very active lifestyle which plays a vital role in a long and healthy life. Most people here love going for a swim, going for a trek and keeping their bodies moving.