Mediterranean Diet: Pros and Cons

Mediterranean Diet: Pros and Cons

On this site, as in many others, we often talk about the Mediterranean diet .

However, the term diet is improper because, rather than a real diet plan, it is a food style made up of rules and habits inspired by the Mediterranean tradition.


Birth of the Mediterranean Diet

In the 1950s, Ancel Keys, an American nutritionist, realized that the populations of the Mediterranean basin were less susceptible to certain pathologies than the Americans.From this observation arose the hypothesis that the Mediterranean diet was able to increase the longevity of those who followed it.

The same scholar, back home, continued this research for years, which culminated in the drafting of the book Eat well and stay well, the Mediterranean way”.
This book reported the results of the famous “Seven Countries Study”, which for twenty years monitored the diet and health conditions of 12,000 people aged between 40 and 60, residing in various countries such as Japan, USA, Holland, Yugoslavia, Finland and Italy.

Keys’ initial hypothesis was at that point confirmed and the Mediterranean diet was proposed to the whole world as the ideal diet to reduce the incidence of the so-called ” diseases of well-being ”
. typical foods of the Mediterranean diet also in the United States. Cereals , vegetables , fruit, fish and olive oil were proposed as an alternative to a diet too rich in fats, proteins and sugars.
In the 1990s, a simple one was proposed to summarize all the principles of the Mediterranean diet and to appeal to the populationfood pyramid that reported the distribution in frequency and quantity of food throughout the day. In particular, at its base were the foods to be consumed several times a day, while at the top were the foods to be limited.

For further information: Video: How was the Mediterranean Diet born?

Food pyramid

The image shows the Food Pyramid of the Mediterranean Diet revisited in a modern key.

Please note: the cereals at the base of the pyramid, to be eaten with each meal, are considered wholemeal. Refined potatoes and potatoes are included among the foods to be eaten in moderation.

Key points

The Mediterranean diet is mainly focused on the correct choice of foods, while the caloric aspect plays a secondary role. The sobriety and moderation of the portions are in any case an essential element for the correct application of this diet.

As an indication, an adult man would need about 2,500 calories every day , of which 55-65% should come from carbohydrates, 20-30% from lipids and only 10-15% from proteins.
The most important principles of the Mediterranean diet are contained in the following guidelines:

  • Increased consumption of vegetable proteins compared to animal ones
  • Reduction of saturated (animal) fats in favor of unsaturated vegetable fats (olive oil)
  • Moderation of global caloric quota
  • Increase in complex carbohydrates and strong moderation of simple ones
  • High intake of dietary fiber
  • Reduction of cholesterol intake
  • The consumption of white meat is prevalent over red meat, and is in any case limited to once or twice a week. Instead, the consumption of fish and legumes is greater
  • Sweets are consumed only on special occasions
  • The Mediterranean diet also provides for a drastic reduction in the consumption of: sausages , spirits , white sugar , butter , fatty cheeses , mayonnaise , white salt , margarine , beef and pork (especially fatty cuts), lard and coffee.

What to eat ?

Several examples of diets drawn up according to the canons of the Mediterranean diet are published on the site, here are some suggestions:

  • Example Mediterranean Diet of 3,000 KCal
  • Example Mediterranean Diet of 2,400 KCal
  • Example Mediterranean Diet Without Pasta of 1,600 KCal
Example of Mediterranean Recipe: RIGATONI ALL’ORTOLANA
Rigatoni g 300 100g red pepper Yellow pepper g 100 Green pepper g 100
400 g peeled tomatoes 100 g courgette 100 g aubergine Onion g 100
Olive oil 50ml grated parmesan 2 tbsp Hot pepper to taste Basil 4 leaves
Salt to taste

As we will see in a few lines, pasta , seasoned with the fruits of the earth, helps us live better and longer than a quick meal with various sweets and too fatty meats .

For further information: Video – Foods of the Mediterranean Diet

Because It’s Good

Some principles of the Mediterranean diet represented and still represent the best defense against diseases such as atherosclerosis , hypertension , myocardial infarction and stroke .
The diet based on bread , pasta (preferably wholemeal), vegetables, fish, olive oil and fruit provides proteins, lipids and sugars with a high nutritional value, low in cholesterol, saturated lipids and simple sugars ; it is rich in vitamins , mineral salts and non – digestible fibers .
Fruits, vegetables and whole foodsprecisely because they are extremely rich in antioxidants, they carry out a protective action against cardiovascular diseases and some forms of cancer .

  • Tomatoes for example , in addition to being typical ingredients of the Mediterranean diet , are rich in antioxidants and in particular in lycopene , a substance able to protect against prostate cancer . The heating process during the preparation of tomato preserve increases its availability, making pasta prepared with this food an excellent ally for our health.
  • Dietary fiber is also a very important component of the diet. With its action it prevents overeating giving an early sense of satiety, regulates intestinal functions, modulates the absorption of nutrients and metabolic processes. It also has a detoxifying and anticancer action, thanks also to the high vitamin content of the foods in which it is contained.
  • Fish is one of the most complete foods as it is rich in proteins , heart – friendly fats and mineral salts such as phosphorus , calcium , iodine and iron . Thanks to its nutritional principles it is one of the fundamental dishes of the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet is ideal for preventing and combating: arteriosclerosis , heart disease , hypertension, diabetes , tumors (especially affecting the digestive system , see: diet and cancer ) and intestinal motility disorders (i.e. irritable colon ).

For further information: Video – Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet also represents a historical and cultural heritage of great importance and is proposed as a symbol of a cuisine whose simplicity, imagination and flavors are appreciated all over the world.
The typical dishes of the Mediterranean diet therefore represent first-rate gastronomic and nutritional excellence. The short cooking enhances the aromas and flavors of all the ingredients, each of which expresses decisive nutritional and protective properties.



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