When you think about Mediterranean food from Southern European countries, your mind may go to pizza and pasta from Italy or lamb chops from Greece, however, these dishes don’t fit into the healthy dietary plans proclaimed as “Mediterranean”.
Mediterranean lifestyle consists of plant-based cuisine using vegetables, fruits, cereals, nuts, seeds, and legumes, cooked in olive oil, with moderate usage of fish, seafood or dairy, and restricted intake of meat and alcohol (mostly red wine). Two classic features of a Mediterranean lifestyle include daily physical activity and adequate hydration.
The Mediterranean diet represents the only conventional dietary pattern where consumption of saturated and trans fats is minimal.
Researches have confirmed the advantages brought by Mediterranean-derived dietary interventions:
- Prevention of cardiovascular disease-A study has found a 33% reduction in cardiovascular death in participants aged 60 and over. Indian patients following the “Indo-Mediterranean Diet” (rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, walnuts, almonds, & mustard or soybean oil) had an approximately 60% reduction in the rate of cardiovascular death. Prospective studies have suggested that the use of olive oil reduces the incidence of stroke.
- The therapeutic approach of obesity, type-2 diabetes, blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, liver disease, cancer & neurodegenerative diseases.
- Lower concentrations of inflammatory markers related to atherosclerosis were found in a study.
- Brain Health - Epidemiologic studies suggest that in a Mediterranean diet, an antioxidant-rich dietary pattern, delays cognitive decline.
- Old Age - Studies counsel that the Mediterranean diet prolongs life in older individuals. Also, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts in an older population was associated with improved cognitive function.
Here are typical ingredients & some tips of the Mediterranean lifestyle:
- Olive Oil - It plays a central role in the cooking process, and thus, represents the main source of dietary fat.
- Cereals - These are mostly whole grains (e.g. Rice, wheat, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, etc.) with bread accompanying many meals.
- Legumes - Beans, chickpeas, soybeans, lentils, etc.
- Vegetables - Olives, tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, leafy green vegetables, etc.
- Fresh Fruits - Grapes, melon, pear, apple, apricot, peaches, figs, oranges, lemons, and so on.
- Fish - Sardines, tuna, salmon, herring, etc. as well as shellfish like mussels, oysters, and clams
- Nuts - Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Red Wine - To be taken in moderation
- Meat, milk, and eggs are to be consumed in small amounts. Cheese to be used in restricted servings and usually with salads.
- Processed meat and sweets are to be avoided.
- Hydrate yourself well with drinking adequate water
- Exercise daily
- Make mealtimes... your family time
Add these in your daily routine to make your meals & your life a healthier one!
- Lăcătușu, C. M., Grigorescu, E. D., Floria, M., Onofriescu, A., & Mihai, B. M. (2019). The Mediterranean Diet: From an Environment-Driven Food Culture to an Emerging Medical Prescription. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(6), 942. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16060942
- Tuttolomondo, A., Simonetta, I., Daidone, M., Mogavero, A., Ortello, A., & Pinto, A. (2019). Metabolic and Vascular Effect of the Mediterranean Diet. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(19), 4716. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20194716
- Valls-Pedret C, Sala-Vila A, Serra-Mir M, et al. (2015).Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med.175(7):1094–1103. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.1668
Written By: Gargi P. Shah