The mediterranean dietThe Mediterranean Diet... two words that remind us of the holiday spent in Greece, Italy or Turkey. Or if we have no such destination in our list of spent vacations, two words that make us dream of a possible future destination. But, although I am convinced that the association of this diet with an extraordinarily beautiful area is partially responsible for its popularity, the merits of this Mediterranean diet are multiple and we can enjoy it not only on the shore of the Mediterranean.
This diet is based on simple food products, slightly or unprocessed, with a high nutritional value: fruits and vegetables cooked especially as salads, whole cereal by-products, nuts and seeds, a small amount of fish and vegetable oils (olive and rape). Red meat is absent, bad small amounts of dairies and a glass of red wine can be added (always with moderation!). One can notice that the anti-oxidants are presents in large quantities, that the fats are of excellent quality, rich in essential fatty acids (including the valuable omega-3) and that a lunch of this sort, in general, brings none of the nutrients associated with the hyper consumption diseases (obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis).
From tradition to innovation, to the detriment of healthIn time, the bases of a Mediterranean diet were unfortunately modified and today there are many areas on the globe where products from this diet are being consumed, but as lunches that hold no dietetic value. An example of unwanted metamorphosis is the one of pasta: if, classically, they were consumed in southern Italy seasoned with olive oil, herbs, fresh tomato juice and perhaps a small amount of parmesan, for the world spaghetti are very popular, cooked by adding large amounts of cheese rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, chopped and deep fried meat, butter, etc. I only want to underline that the beneficial effects of the original diet are real, they have been confirmed by many studies and the changing in our food customs - meaning adopting (at least partially) some of the culinary customs mentioned abode is really advantageous.
Cholesterol reduction, an enormous advantageOne of the main advantages is the balance of fats circulating in the body by lowering the "bad gats" - LDL-cholesterol and increasing the "good fats" - HDL-cholesterol. The consequence in a lower rate of heart disease, a better elasticity of the arteries, a blood pressure closer to normality, all maintained beyond a certain age.
The basic elements of the Mediterranean diet are considered to be positive even by the American Heart Association. In a study named "The Lyon Diet Heart", which included people that already suffered from heart conditions, a diet similar to the Mediterranean one was used, very rich in alpha�linolenic acid (fatty acid omega-3) with the following characteristics:
- High consumption of bread, roots, green vegetables, fish;
- Very low consumption of beef and pork (eventually replaced with bird meat);
- Daily consumption of fruits;
- Replacing butter and cream with margarine rich in alpa-linoleic acid.
The influence on the health condition was evaluated over 4 years and compared to what was observed at people following a normal diet for Europe today. It was noticed that the recurrent heart disease risk decreased by 50-70% for persons following the Mediterranean diet.
This study lead to other studies that confirmed that a healthy lifestyle, which also includes the basic elements of a Mediterranean diet is beneficial for the organism. A recent research proved that concerning the frequency of strokes, the effects of the diet are beneficial.
Which are the conclusions we can observe? If the Mediterranean Sea is somewhat far away, we can still eat in a Mediterranean manner in our own country. And if we add an adequate level of exercise, effort, the beneficial effects will be even more obvious.
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