Although we live in the Mediterranean area, the last decades more and more people have adopted the Western type of diet, instead of the Mediterranean diet. This change in our eating habits seems to be the key to many health issues and chronic diseases.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The term “Mediterranean diet” was invented by Ansel Kis, a physiologist, who described the diet model followed by the Mediterranean people. The Mediterranean diet model is based on starchy wholemeal products and includes:
- Increased intake of fibers from fruits, vegetables, bread/cereals, potatoes and pulses.
- Minimum consumption of processed products and food.
- Small – moderate consumption of dairy products every day.
- Fish, seafood, eggs and poultry in small to moderate quantities on a weekly basis.
- Red meat, foods rich in fat and sugar are limited to a few times a month.
- The main source of fat is olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
Mediterranean diet and health benefits
To date, many studies have highlighted the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on health and chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, even on life expectancy.
In a recent study, scientists tried to discover the molecular mechanisms that the Mediterranean diet exerts all these health benefits. They recorded the eating habits and the health of 25,994 healthy women for a period of 12 years. In addition, they recorded the levels of 40 biomarkers, including lipids, inflammation, glucose metabolism and lipoproteins.
As a result, they concluded that people with a moderate to high adoption to the Mediterranean diet had a 25% lower risk of cardiovascular events, over a 12-year follow-up period. This cardiovascular benefit was attributed to the interaction of nutrients of the Mediterranean diet with the mechanisms of inflammation, glucose metabolism, blood pressure and insulin resistance, which are the main causes of many chronic diseases.