The value of Mediterranean diet has been studied a lot in recent years. As Mediterranean diet is defined as a dietary pattern created by people living in Mediterranean countries. Each country, depending on culture, tradition and local customs has variations in the dietary pattern on diet that follows. Nevertheless, there are certain common points among countries that highlight the value of Mediterranean diet in health.
Mediterranean diet is characterized by daily consumption of cereals, mostly unprocessed, seasonal fruits, vegetables and nuts. The main fat source daily is olive oil while weekly are consumed large and small fish and seafood. The consumption or red and white meat is limited to one serving per week, while meat products have little or no place in the diet. As for alcohol, it is recommended moderate consumption of wine, especially red, along with meals (up to 2 servings / day in men and up to 1 serving / day in women). For convenience, Mediterranean diet is represented as a pyramid where the base of pyramid contains food which are consumed daily and in higher levels there are foods that are consumed more rarely. In a recent revision of Mediterranean food pyramid, daily physical activity, socialization, conviviality, adequate rest and abundant drinking water and herbal infusions were added to the basis of pyramid, as main components or pyramid.
Benefits of Mediterranean diet on health
Many studies have highlighted the benefits of adopting Mediterranean diet pattern regarding health and longevity. There is evidence which supports that people who adhere to Mediterranean diet pattern have significantly lower mortality especially regarding cardiovascular disease and cancer. Moreover, prospective studies have revealed that Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer and dementia. A recent publication linked the increasing incidence of childhood obesity in Greece with reduced compliance with the Mediterranean diet pattern. The high consumption of fiber, soluble and insoluble, the low intake of refined products, the high consumption of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated over saturated fatty acids (fish, olive oil and nuts), antioxidant vitamins, polyphenols, flavonoids and many trace elements derived from fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs are some of the key elements which highlight the value of medioterranean diet. It is likely that a combination of all above different nutrients of the diet make it so healthy. Not only that but other factors such as a more relaxed attitude to eating, sunshine and physical activity are likely to be contributing to the overall healthy lifestyle in this region.
It is therefore evident that adherence to Mediterranean dietary pyramid, is not just a way of eating, but a lifestyle, offering benefits for both body and spirit!