what it is, foods, characteristics and benefits

Together with vegetable proteins, cereals, vegetables and fruit are the basis of the Mediterranean diet. But what exactly is it and what foods does it include?

Health also passes from the plate. How many times have we heard this statement, yet still today we don’t know exactly what to eat and in what quantities. Flash diets and improvised diets reign supreme, yet we Italians are lucky because we have all the foods of the Mediterranean diet available. You hear about it often, but what is it really? What foods does it include?? Let’s go find out about this lifestyle.

What is the Mediterranean diet

The term was born around the 1950s by the hand of the American nutritional biologist Ancel Keys. Author of the book Eat well and stay well, the Mediterranean waybetter known as the study of the six countriesKeys studied for several years some inhabitants of the United States, Italy, Finland, Greece, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands and Japan aged between 40 and 60 to discover the incidence of so-called diseases of well-being in relation to diet.

Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet

He discovered that in Italy and in the other countries facing the Mediterranean basin, theincidence of cardiovascular disease was significantly lower. This value, on the other hand, tended to increase as we moved away from it.

In fact, the diet and lifestyle of the Mediterranean countries are very different from those of the rest of the world. It all starts with nutrition, of course, but the Mediterranean diet is first of all one thing lifestyle.

Characteristics of the Mediterranean diet: foods and food pyramid

To better understand and disseminate the principles and foods of the Mediterranean diet, Keys studied the so-called food pyramids. In fact, his studies highlighted how the populations of the Mediterranean basin mainly fed on grains, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats such as those deriving from olive oil and dried fruit. Only going up and in a less relevant position do you find meat, fish, eggs, milk and derivatives. The summit is reserved for fats and sugars, a sign that their consumption must be sporadic.

Mediterranean diet food pyramid
Mediterranean diet food pyramid

In essence, the benefit of the Mediterranean diet is to consume predominantly low calorie foods such as vegetables, cereals and legumes. It does not register then, contrary to the diet ofmiddle americana surplus of proteins and fats that contribute to the onset of cardiovascular problems.

The carne in fact it should be limited to once a week, the same goes for the pesce (with the exception of oily fish, rich in Omega 3 and 6). As for the sausages instead, the frequency should drop further, as well as the portion, to 50 g per week.

Milk and dairy productsalthough present in the diet, they should limit themselves to two portions of 100 g per week for low-fat foods such as yoghurt, milk and low-fat cheeses, while in the case of aged cheeses it goes down to 50 grams. Once a week it is possible to consume from 1 to 4 eggtwo portions of pesce and two portions of poultry.

The correct Mediterranean diet should consist of:

  • 45–60% carbohydratesmainly complex such as those contained in cereals;
  • 10–12% protein preferably vegetable (followed by those obtained from white meat, fish and red meat);
  • 20–35% fat with a percentage of saturated fat lower than 10%.

Benefits of the Mediterranean diet

In addition to the reduction of pathologies related to the cardiovascular system, the Mediterranean diet brings various benefits. A diet based on cereals, fruit and vegetables is rich in polyphenolsof pigments (such as i carotenoids) e di vitamins such as C and E which function as antioxidants.

The fibre then, in addition to promoting the sense of satiety, they regulate intestinal transit and promote the absorption of nutrients. The foods of the Mediterranean diet also allow you to fill up on mineral salts such as phosphorus, calcium, iodine and iron as well as of lycopenea substance contained in high concentrations in tomato sauce that helps prevent various forms of cancer such as prostate cancer.

In short, the Mediterranean diet is truly the best lifestyle you can choose. If it’s accompanied by healthy daily physical activity, your body will thank you.

Don’t know where to start? Try our recipes for quick first courses.

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