The Mediterranean Diet: Its Health Benefits and Components.

The Mediterranean diet includes high consumption of olive oil, legumes, cereals, fruits and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products mostly cheese and yoghurt.

It is the modern nutritional recommendation for reducing the lipid profile of the body. It helps prevent diseases such as obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension and heart attack.

In fact, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle. It bases on the tradition of the Mediterranean people. These are the people in all the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea.

This eating habit originated in the middle ages, in ancient Rome were eating bread, wine, oil products, supplemented by sheep cheese, fruits, vegetables, little meat, fish and seafood were common.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
  1. It increases the body’s metabolism

     The Mediterranean diet is rich in fibre which is easy to digest, increases the body’s metabolism, boosts energy and also helps the digestion process of the body.

  2. It keeps the heart healthy

     This diet is low in cholesterol which is important to prevent heart diseases such as hypertension and heart attack. This is due to atherosclerosis — lipid deposition in the walls of the arteries.

  3. Prevents metabolic diseases

    High lipid and fat content in the body predispose to metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. The Mediterranean diet is low in sugar and fats, therefore, prevents these diseases.

  4. It’s a balanced diet

    It contains the food nutrients in adequate proportion; carbohydrate, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals and water.

  5.  Weight loss 

    Diet is the most important aspect that you can control if you want to lose weight. Next is exercise. Mediterranean diet is low in sugar and animal fats, that cause weight gain and is rich in fruits and vegetables, fibre and plant fats, that reduce weight.

  6. It makes you mentally healthy

    It helps prevent depression and mental diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet is an anti-inflammatory diet which reduces the risk of depression. Your physical health correlates with your mental health.

Components
Olives  and Olive oil

They are a vital part of the Mediterranean diet. Olives are generally eaten wholly and can also be used for cooking.

Olive oil is the best source of dietary fats for cooking, baking and mixing salads and vegetables.

Nuts and Legumes

Nuts and Legumes common to the Mediterranean diet include; beans, almonds, cashew nuts, fava beans, green beans, hazelnuts, kidney beans, lentils, pistachios and walnuts.

They are good sources of plant fats and protein. Plant fats are preferred over animal fats because they are healthier and contain less amount of bad cholesterol.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits common to the Mediterranean diet are apples, apricot, cherries, grapefruits, melons, oranges, peaches, pears, tangerines, strawberries and tomatoes.

Vegetables common to the Mediterranean diet are arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, peppers, pumpkins, spinach and potatoes.

The vegetables are usually cooked or drizzled with olive oil.

Fish and Seafood

 Fish and Seafood are rich in protein. They are preferred to meat because they contain less amount of bad cholesterol and are rich in good cholesterol.

Fish common to the Mediterranean diet is tuna, herring, sardines, salmon and bream.

Seafood typically includes fish and shell food. Seafood common to the Mediterranean diet is abalone, crab, lobster, mackerel, oysters, salmons, sardines and tuna.

Dairy Products

These typically include cheese and yoghurt. They are good sources of calcium and vitamin D, proteins and other essential nutrients.

Diary products common to the Mediterranean diet are brie (cows-milk cheese), chevre (Goat cheese), feta (sheep’s milk cheese), pecorino ( made from sheep’s milk) and yoghurt.

Summary

 It’s worthy of note that despite all the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, it alone cannot help you lose weight or prevent diseases.

Other factors contribute to it as well. Furthermore, weight gain is a complex process that includes metabolismgenetics, ageing, diet, hormone regulation, and the impact of the environment on your lifestyle, including sleep, physical activity and stress.

For heart diseases, lifestyle is important; do you have bad habits, then you need to break them. It’s necessary to exercise for weight loss and a healthy heart.

 

References

1. The Mediterranean Diet: A History of Health, 2013, NCBI

2. Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet, OLDWAYS

 


Dr Klas

Dr Klas aka Dr Emmanuel Adeniran is a medical doctor, a health educator, and a fitness enthusiast who has been into fitness for more than five years. He is willing to share his knowledge and experience with you.

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