All of you have probably already heard of “Mediterranean diet“, but do you know what really is it?
The Mediterranean diet is a nutritional model inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of the Mediterranean (particularly of Italy, Greece, Spain and Morocco).
The merit of his discovery was of Ancel Keys, an American nutritionist as he was in the ‘50s to realize that Mediterranean populations were developing certain diseases less frequently than Americans. Keys promoted extensive research, called “Seven Countries Study” to test the hypothesis that the Mediterranean diet was able to prevent some diseases (especially metabolic and cardiovascular diseases) and increase the quality and duration of life.
The initial Keys hypothesis was confirmed and the Mediterranean diet was offered to the world as the ideal diet to reduce the incidence of so-called “deseases of affluence”: more cereals, vegetables and fresh fruit, olive oil and fish in place of a too rich in animal protein, fat and sugar diet.
The fundamental principles of the Mediterranean diet are:
- Increased use of cereals (complex carbohydrates), preferably wholegrain, with decrease in the consumption of simple sugars;
- Increased use of vegetable proteins (legumes) than animals ones;
- Increased use of olive oil (polyunsaturated fats) than saturated fats;
- High dietary fiber introduction (vegetables, fruits, whole foods);
- Reduced intake of cholesterol (contained in foods of animal origin);
- Increased use of fish and legumes; preference for white meat over red meat;
- Adequate caloric intake.
An easy way to remember these principles is the food pyramid, founded as an instrument of spreading what should become good eating habits for everybody:
At the base we find everyday food (local and seasonal products) and the ideal lifestyle (physical activity, conviviality); the closer you get to the tip as the food have to be consumed with care.
WHO-World Health Organization-Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) (http://www.who.int/topics/nutrition/en/)