Why Is The Mediterranean Diet So Special?
Mediterranean diet is the most recent awakening. Ever wondered what it’s all about? As the name itself suggests, it’s that food which is consumed by the inhabitants of countries along the shores of the Mediterranean. In all, there are about 3 continents and 16 countries along this belt. The food habits and diet patterns vary across each of these different countries and sometimes even vary across different regions within each country.
Why the hype?
What is so special about the diet patterns of these folks that it is gaining so much attention? Recent studies show that the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases and related disorders is lesser in this part of the world. While it could be due to differences in lifestyle, the important role played by food cannot be ignored.
Trace the origins
The origins of the Mediterranean diet dates back to the Greek Island of Crete where it was seen that the Cretans and the Greeks lived longer than most people from other parts of the world. Also, those who died of coronary heart diseases and cancers were fewer.
Mediterranean diet-Typical Characteristics
Mediterranean food is extremely rich in carbohydrates. The consumption of fruits, grains and vegetables are high. Potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds and cereals are widely used. Milk and milk products, egg are consumed in moderate quantities. So is wine. Very little red meat gets eaten. Instead, more of fish is eaten because it contains Omega-3 oils which are said to enhance the immune functioning.
A point to note
What is unique about the Mediterranean diet is generous use of olive oil. Olive oil, as researched by Hippocrates the father of medicine, is said to have a lot of medicinal properties. It is said to add suppleness to the muscle and skin, and soothe the effects of harsh sun or water. The content of antioxidants is high in olive oil. These antioxidants are known to prevent arteries from getting clogged and also discourage other chronic illnesses including cancer, bladder stones, urinary tract infection, ulcers, obesity and so on. This oil is special because it contains monounsaturated fatty acids which decrease cholesterol formation. Which should explain the low incidence of cardiovascular diseases in this part of the world. Apart from olive oil, canola or peanut oil are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
Mediterranean diet-The meal course
Typically, the Mediterranean diet begins with appetizers as largely salads. Bread is always there. Depending on the season, warm soups can be served along with bread. Vegetables, grains and greens form the core of the main course. To supplement this, fish and read meat is sometimes also served. The dessert is hassle-free with a cup of Turkish Coffee or a Moroccan tea or a pack of cookies. Mediterranean people also drink alcohol with their meal moderately.
To reap the full benefits of the Mediterranean diet, dietitians recommend that apart from following the diet, it is also necessary to have adequate quantity of water (At least 6 glasses a day).Moderate consumption of wine is also acceptable. For those who want to avoid concerns of alcohol in wine, the suggested alternative is purple grape juice since it offers the same heart health benefits as wine.
Four tips from the Greeks
Go Olive While shopping for food, you might look for canned foods that have the fat-free or cholesterol-free labels on them. While this is a step in the right direction, it does not protect you from the ill-effects of fats. Reason being, they might have high quantities of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils which increase triglyceride levels in blood. When you buy oils, pick olive, canola or peanut oils and fresh is always best.
Choose fruits, vegetables and cereals to meat. Have copious portions of food from plant sources. Use Fruits for your daily dessert. This will help you curtail consumption of sweets that contain sugar and saturated fats.
Minimize animal fats. Go low on cheese, butter and processed yogurts. Consume fish and eggs moderately and eggs about 4 servings a week and fish about once a week. Contain red meat to once a month. Natural yogurts and goats milk cheese and yogurt ate acceptable.
Moderate wine. It’s acceptable for women to have a glass of wine with every meal and for men to have two. This is said to assist with the reduction of heart attacks and some cancers. However, beware of over consumption. It can lead to high blood pressure and weakening of the heart muscles. For those wary of alcohol, go get your purple grape juice.
The recipes can be exceptionally tasty which encourages you to eat more than you need at times. Presently, the Mediterranean diet is catching on all over the globe, partly due to immigration to other lands (awareness) but the diet itself is now catching the eye of professors and doctors who work closely with preventative medicine and diet research.