Studies have shown that people from the Mediterranean area (Crete, Greece, Southern Italy and Northern Africa) have lower rates of chronic disease. Many believe this is due to their diet. So, the idea here is to eat like people from the Mediterranean, to be healthier.
The important aspects of the Mediterranean diet are high intakes of cereals, grains, vegetables, dried beans, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, seafood, and fruit. Also, wine, meat and poultry in moderation. Dairy products are rarely eaten (no butter or cream), only some cheese and yogurt. Regular physical activity is also a key factor.
Olive oil is of central importance. Though it is a pure fat, it's a monounsaturated fat which is healthier for you. Olive oil also contains antioxidants, especially the cold-pressed, "extra virgin" variety. Some studies show that olive oil may reduce bad cholesterol and increase good
Many of the fruits and vegetable eaten by Mediterranean people are locally grown and minimally processed. The emphasis is on fresh. Scientists believe that this results in higher fiber, antioxidants and other micronutrients in their diet.
Dairy foods, are generally high in saturated fat. So, eating less of them is generally considered healthier. Studies have also found that red wine contains antioxidants.
The diets of the people of the Mediterranean have been studied by health professionals since the 1950s.
The American scientist Ancel Keys, along with his wife Margaret popularized the Mediterranean diet with a series of best-selling books.
There are approximately 16 countries that border the Mediterranean. The diets of people in this region vary wildly, as does the standard of living and health. So, the name of the diet is a bit of a misnomer and has lead to some confusion.
Many important groups, including the American Heart Association. believe that fat is unhealthy, even if it's supposedly "good" fat (like that found in olive oil).
Tags: fiber healthy-fats
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