Mediterranean diet model and its effect on health has occupied with research scientific community for many decades. The first indications of the beneficial role of the Mediterranean diet came from the Seven Countries Study in the early 1960s, when it was found that the inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries (mainly Crete and southern Italy) had a longer life expectancy and fewer cases with cardiovascular diseases.
Based on eating habits that have been proved to have health benefits, the Mediterranean pyramid was designed, which is still one of the most famous models of healthy eating.
Its main features are:
- High consumption of unprocessed cereals, legumes and seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Moderate consumption of dairy products, fish and alcohol (red wine is recommended)
- Low consumption of meat and products that are rich in fat and sugar
- Preference for olive oil and other sources of monounsaturated fatty acids (olives, nuts) compared to saturated fats of animal origin
In addition to dietary guidelines, the pyramid emphasizes the importance of physical activity, adequate rest and the consumption of meals with friends (family, friends). This fact shows that the Mediterranean diet is not only a model of diet but also a model of lifestyle. Thus, in 2010 UNESCO declared the Mediterranean diet as “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”, as the application of the traditional diet is transmitted from generation to generation.
What are the health benefits of Mediterranean diet?
- Contributes to the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer.
- Contributes to the proper functioning of the brain (memory retention, learning ability) and protects against mental illness (Alzheimer’s disease, depression).
- Helps maintain a healthy body weight and prevent obesity, as it has been proven to be very effective in weight loss.
- Promotes longevity and has anti-aging effect.
- Improves quality of life, as it offers more vitality and functionality and less physical pain.