|In practice||Easy to follow|
|Warning||Possible vitamin D deficiency for northern populations|
If there are diversified dietary habits in the fifteen or so countries around the Mediterranean Sea, there is at least one constant: the abundant use of olive oil. The term “Mediterranean diet” refers in particular to the traditional diet of the Greek islands of Crete and Corfu – hence the occasional appellation of “Cretan diet”.
Interest in this type of food comes from a research ( The Seven Countries Study ) conducted by Ancel Keys in the 1950s, which showed that despite a high dietary intake of fat and a relatively rudimentary health care system , The inhabitants of these islands (as well as those of southern Italy) had an excellent life expectancy in adulthood, and had a very low rate of coronary heart disease.
Later, Professor Serge Renaud discovered what, in nutrition, is called the “French paradox”, published a research ( The Lyon Diet Study ) which revealed that subjects who had already suffered a first infarction and who Adopted a Cretan diet had an infarction and stroke rate reduced by 75%, while the group subjected only to a low-fat diet had only a 25% reduction.
Since the publication of this study in the highly respected medical journal The Lancet in 1994, the popularity of the Mediterranean diet has spread like wildfire throughout the world and scientific studies continue to prove its effectiveness in the Prevention of many diseases.
It should be noted that the Cretans – who still have the lowest rate of cardiovascular mortality in the world – still eat traditional food with very little imported and processed food.
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Reduced risk of cancer.
- Increased life expectancy.
- Improvement of health in general.
The main lines
This regime is a whole. It combines food moderation and a wide variety of foods (and thus nutrients) with an active daily life. Its basic principles are easy to understand and follow.
- Abundance of complete cereal products.
- Abundance of fruits and vegetables.
- Abundance of garlic, onion, spices and herbs.
- Use of olive oil as fat.
- Daily consumption of legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Daily consumption of yogurt and cheese.
- Daily, but moderate consumption of red wine.
- Great fish consumption (several times a week).
- Limited consumption of chicken and eggs (a few times a week).
- Limited consumption of sugary foods (a few times a week).
- Very limited consumption of red meat (a few times a month).
- A reasonable daily calorie intake (from 1,800 to 2,500 calories per day).
Mechanisms of action
Its benefits are often attributed to the high intake of monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil and low intake of saturated fatty acids. Effectively, a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids reduces total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL), and increases that of good cholesterol (HDL).
In addition, it is believed that large amounts of fruit and vegetables provide an excellent source of antioxidants that help protect against aging diseases.
In fact, it is the synergy of the many nutrients and phytonutrients present in the Mediterranean diet as well as an active lifestyle that help to prevent diseases.
Incorporating only some of the principles and ignoring others might not generate the same beneficial effects.
The most recent study published in 2013, once again recognizes the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular events and mortality 1 . In another study published in 2011, it was also demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was more effective than a low-fat diet to induce changes in cardiovascular risk. In addition, the most recent scientific journals report weight loss and decreased blood cholesterol levels when joining the Mediterranean diet. It is also interesting to note that even in the absence of weight loss, the Mediterranean diet allows to lower cholesterol levels 3 .
|Complete bread and olive oil
Yogurt of goat nature with honey
Chickpeas with coriander
Wild rice with vegetables
Pear with cinnamon
Vegetable salad with chervil
Complete bread and olive oil
A glass of wine
Satiety and well-being
This diet offers a good variety of unprocessed nutritious foods with which one can quite easily achieve satiety, which makes it pleasant to follow. There are no foods outright prohibited, although many are “restricted”.
Its basic principles are easy to understand and can easily be applied at home. In large and medium-sized towns, if one knows how to choose one’s restaurant, it is easy to eat “Mediterranean”. Choices may be more limited in the region.
A study conducted at the Harvard Medical School found that people who were eating for 18 months lost more weight than people who had dieting whose only feature was low fat.
- Mediterranean people benefit from year-round sunshine, which provides them with a regular vitamin D synthesis. For people in the Nordic countries, cow’s milk is the main source of this vitamin. Since milk is not part of the diet, there must be a high intake of fatty fish (especially salmon, mackerel and sardines) as well as yogurts enriched with vitamin D or supplements. Otherwise, vitamin D deficiency is possible.
- The consumption of wine can be adopted or not, depending on the personal experience and the attitude of each individual in the face of alcohol. In Crete, it is consumed in small quantities, with meals.
- For people who are not used to consuming olive oil, fish and legumes, adding them to the diet gradually, in small quantities at a time, can facilitate their integration.