Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Mediterranean Diet

Wednesday 16th December 2009

The Mediterranean diet has long been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, problems with circulation, and all round good health. The diet, based on the style of eating in Southern European countries such as Spain and Italy, is defined by plentiful amounts of olive oil, more fish than meat, a low intake of dairy produce and lots of fruit and vegetables. Unusually, the Mediterranean diet also encourages the drinking of alcohol (red wine) in moderation.

Research scientists are not quite sure why the Mediterranean style of eating is linked to the afore mentioned health benefits, but one reason is thought to be the low levels of saturated fats it contains. Saturated fats are found in produce such as butter, cheese and red meat. Secondly the diet also has higher levels of mono unsaturated fatty acids(found) In olive oil and the fatty acids that are also abundant in certain types of fish.

It is know that the Mediterranean countries have lower rates of depression and suicide than those in northern Europe and some studies have suggested that the diet also has links with this. More recently researchers have found that those who's diets were strongly associated with the Mediterranean way of eating were less likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety related disorders.

The results of this research has concluded that the amount of fruit, vegetables and legumes, as well as the types of oils and fats that are consumed does in fact have links to lower rates of depression. Although they have reasoned that the overall effects of the diet may be more important than singling out individual foods or food groups.

If you are wanting to change your current diet to mimic that of the Mediterranean style then here are the things that you are going to need to change.

  • Maximise your intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grain cereals

  • Limit your red meat intake and replace it with fish and poultry

  • Use olive oil instead of butter or lard

  • Limit your intake of processed and 'fast food'

  • Eat only moderate amounts of dairy and use low fat versions wherever possible

  • Snack on fruit, (including dried) fruit and unsalted nuts

  • Never add salt to your food at the table. There's already plenty.

  • Drink red wine during your meals, but no more than two small glasses per day

  • Drink more water, at least six glasses a day.

The Mediterranean diet incorporates the intake of health promoting ingredients while minimising those ingredients that are though to be bad for you. Those who adopt the Mediterranean style of eating are less likely to suffer illness and disease than those who do not.

Research has shown an exceptional reduction in risks of premature death, cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis and type 2 diabetes.

Adoption of the Mediterranean diet has also proven to be a successful strategy in the battle against weight loss.

If you click on the image at the top of this page you will see an enlarged version of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid which shows you how often food groups in this specific diet should be consumed.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask them!

See you again tomorrow.



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