what-is-the-mediterranean-diet-all-about?

What is the Mediterranean Diet all About?

 

What is the Mediterranean Diet all about? As the name suggests, it is the diet eaten by those who live in areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Researchers noted that those eating this diet were exceptionally healthy. They noted that this pattern of eating helped fight against heart disease, strokes, certain cancers, diabetes, and cognitive decline. Compared to many North Americans, those eating a Mediterranean Diet had a lower risk of many lifestyle diseases.

In this blog, I plan to discuss a bit about the history of the Mediterranean Diet, what type of foods are included in this eating plan, and what the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet are.

What is the Mediterranean Diet all About?

The Mediterranean Diet was inspired by the traditional eating habits of those living in Italy and Greece. It encompasses the eating habits of those people who live along the Mediterranean Sea.

 

fish-and-seafood

Its History

In ancient Rome, the rich feasted on the delicacies of fish and seafood, while the slaves of Rome were destined to eat bread, olives and olive oil. The Greek enjoyed bread, wine and oil products supplemented by sheep cheese and vegetables.

Many Countries had Similar Eating Habits

 

There are at least 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Each country and region had varying eating preferences.

Because of the variety of people and cultures in this area of the world, there are various methods of following this diet. This eating plan can be adjusted to individual needs and preferences.

Even though there are different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, religions, economies, geographies and types of agriculture from this part of the world, there are, however, some things they all have in common.

The Similarity of Foods in the Mediterranean Type Diet

The area around the southeast of the Mediterranean Sea has been called the cradle of civilization. Within these geographical borders the history of the ancient world took place. It is where farming first emerged as people grew newly domesticated plants as crops.

The people bordering the Mediterranean Sea ate:

  • An abundance of fruit and vegetables
  • Bread and other whole grains
  • Potatoes
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive Oil was the primary source of fat
  • Fish

They ate low to moderate amounts of:

  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • poultry

An American nutritionist in the 1970s, described the Mediterranean diet as… Homemade minestrone soup, pasta of all varieties, tomato sauce with a sprinkling of Parmesan. The occasional piece of meat or small fish in the place of beans and macaroni. Plenty of fresh bread eaten hot from the oven. Plenty of fresh vegetables sprinkled with olive oil, with perhaps a small portion of meat or fish several times a week. With always fruit for dessert.

Its North American History

In the 1950s an American scientist, Dr. Ancel Keys began researching the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. He noticed the relationship between the diet of people with that of their cardiovascular health.

In the 1950s he was impressed with the fact that the poor of small towns in southern Italy were healthier than their wealthier cousins who had immigrated decades earlier to New York.

When he first presented his idea to the World Health Organization in 1955, he was met with skepticism.

The Seven Countries Study

He was challenged to do more research on the subject. So, he implemented a research project called Seven Countries Study. Here he studied the eating habits and health of 7 countries around the globe. In total 12,763 subjects were screened during the next 5 and 10 years respectively.

The results showed significant differences between the geographical areas. Ancel realized that the dietary habits in Greece and southern Italy, had less cardiovascular disease.

When he realized this, Ancel Keys took his own advice and adopted the Mediterranean dietary pattern of eating. He lived to be 100 years old and died in 2004. Meanwhile, his research gained worldwide respect and recognition.

In 1975, he and his chemist wife, Margaret Keys first publicized their findings. It did not, however, get widespread recognition until the 1990s.

What are the Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean Diet is shown to prevent type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure, lower cardiovascular incidents and strokes, lower the risks of certain cancers and lowers the risk of dementia.

The populations with the Mediterranean Diet had a lower rate of cholesterol in their blood and a smaller percentage of heart disease.

A healthy diet sharpens your memory, and the way you process information. In one study, healthy eaters at age 50 had nearly 90% lower risk of dementia, compared to those who had the least healthy diets.

The Mediterranean Diet has been proven to boost brain health as well as improve heart health.

While diet is important, it is also necessary to increase activity, and stop cigarette smoking. In other words, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle as well.

whole-grains

Does the American Heart Association Recommend the Mediterranean Diet?

The American Heart Association recommends a healthy diet.

  • Eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, and legumes
  • Include low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Use non-tropical vegetable oils
  • Eat nuts
  • Limit added sugars, sodium, or highly processed foods
  • Eliminate or limit refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and processed meats

This helps reduce or prevent heart disease and stroke by reducing high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance that your body needs to function well. However, too much of it can have a negative effect on the body.

HDL is the “Healthy” kind of cholesterol in your body. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and are a healthy type of fat.

LDL is the “Lousy” kind of cholesterol in your body which can clog arteries.

The Mediterranean diet, particularly when enriched with virgin olive oil, improves the so-called good – “Healthy” – cholesterol, in people at high risk for heart disease. It also helps reduce excess LDL cholesterol levels from arteries and keeps blood vessels clean.

Does the American Diabetes Association Recommend the Mediterranean Diet?

There are numerous health benefits to the Mediterranean-type diet. The Mediterranean-type diet was found to improve fasting glucose and A1C levels for those with type 2 diabetes. It has a positive effect with those with insulin sensitivities. There is an 83% lower risk of developing diabetes for those who follow this diet.

The Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk factors of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Use olive oil and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to help control blood pressure.

In Conclusion

What is the Mediterranean Diet all about? It originated in the cradle of civilization. More and more by physicians and patients alike recognize and accept the Mediterranean diet as a way to prevent many diseases.

The diet consists of plentiful use of olive oil, whole grains, legumes, pasta, nutrient-dense vegetables, fruit, herbs, garlic, red onions, fish, eggs, and a moderate amount of meat and red wine.

The Mediterranean Diet limits foods with excess calories when it has little nutritional value. The Mediterranean Diet represents an active lifestyle.


Some 2400 years ago, Hippocrates the Greek said, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”


Please Leave a Comment

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Mediterranean Diet. Do you think it is something you could practice? Would you be able to eat this way for the rest of your life like Ancel Keys did?


Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist, or a doctor. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “What is the Mediterranean Diet all About?”

  1. Hello there! This is an amazing article you’ve got, I like it every bit of the information provided here.  As a consultant, Diet trends come and go, but the Mediterranean diet’s encouragement of eating a variety of foods in moderation is pretty aligned with the advice I like to give my clients. Thanks for sharing

    1. Yes the Mediterranean Diet has been around for a long time. There is so much good that can be said about the diet. It is something that is sustainable, that is many people can live with it for a long period of time. You can find these foods readily available and they are easy to prepare.

      I am glad that you enjoyed this article and all the best to you as you work with your clients giving them good direction in a healthy way of eating. 

  2. An interesting study on a subject that should be understood by us all.

    In the current days of fad diets and high-cost meals a similar result can be achieved by eating properly.
    The Mediterranean diet is not a fad. It has been recognised for many years as a healthy lifestyle
    that can assist in a range of health benefits.

    This summary is well written and I am happy to share it.

    Peter H

    1. Yes, the Mediterranean diet is not a fad. It is a healthy way of eating. By enjoying the foods as nature has provided them, in their whole state, we get the benefit of their fiber and nutrients.

      Highly processed foods are convenient, but may have hidden sodium, fats and sugars in them. Large quantities of fruit and vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil, can reduce your risk of serious health problems.

  3. Chimmhogevagreenesnr

    Wow 🤩 I love this review! The informations inside are up to date. The Mediterranean diet has been linked to decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, and early death, all associated with better heart health.” That’s because the diet is high in heart-healthy omega-3s thanks to the seafood, nuts, and olive oil, as well as antioxidants from all those fruits and veggies).

    1. When you eat food as nature has provided it, fresh and unprocessed, we get all the benefits. It is healthy to your heart, your blood-sugar and your brain! What more could we ask for? All to your health and long life!

  4. I’ve always been a fan of this diet. And the best part about the Mediterranean Diet is that it’s really not that hard to follow – if you’re eating salads rich in color and using olive oil as the main dressing source, you’re doing something right here. The fact it’s rich in fruits, nuts, and seeds tells me that it’s more than possible to consume healthy snacks with this diet as well. If there’s one type of diet I’d be willing to go with, the Mediterranean Diet tops my list.  

    1. There are many fad diets that come and go. This is highly sustainable and recommended by the medical community. It gives you a well rounded variety of foods to choose from.

      Society at large has picked up on this, as it is as easy to pick up nuts and seeds at the cash register as it is to pick up a candy bar, and it is much healthier as well. 

  5. Yeah I’m not surprised that the Mediterranean diet can prevent so many of these major health issues like diabetes and heart disease. I’ve read many studies that say eggs, diary, and meat is a huge contributor to these diseases so it makes sense that eating less of them and more of the healthy stuff like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish, would benefit your health greatly. The diet allows a moderate about of red meat but I’d avoid it, I read from a cancer research organization that red meat causes colon cancer.

    1. A high fiber diet is good to help prevent colon cancer. Whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables would be included in that food category. We want to keep the food moving through our digestive tracts. You also need some protein which you can get from fish and chicken. Eating rice and beans also creates a whole protein. 

  6. Md. Asraful Islam

    Thank you so much for sharing with us a healthy article. The main content of this article is about the details of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and it includes less dairy and meat than a typical Western diet which reflects a way of eating that is traditional in the countries.

    It was great to know an overview of the various useful aspects of the Mediterranean diet and how to do it.Researchers Found A 25% Reduced Risk Of Death For All Who Followed The Mediterranean Diet. Adhering To The Mediterranean Diet Can Help Prolong Your Life. Let us all do a Mediterranean diet and transform ourselves into a healthy strong person.

    I loved reading your article and it is a healthy article I would like to share in my Facebook group if you are with me now.

    1. You may feel free to share this information. It is important for us to realize that what we put into our bodies has a huge impact on our health. As the saying goes, “We are what we eat”. Fast  food chains can be found around the globe, The highly processed foods are not as good for us as the simpler whole foods are. 

  7. Your guide is awesome on Mediterranean Diet. It limits foods with excess calories when it has little nutritional value. And finally, the Mediterranean Diet is associated with an active lifestyle. A healthy diet sharpens your memory, and the way you process information. In one study, healthy eaters at age 50 had nearly 90% lower risk of dementia, compared to those who had the least healthy diets. Thanks for sharing such useful info.

    1. There are many reasons why the Mediterranean Diet is healthy, It is the way many people have remained healthy into old age. Those who eat a diet high in saturated fats and sugars soon find themselves facing all sorts of health related problems. It is better to be conscious of this before your health disappears

  8. Hi! My parent have this diet. And my grandpa lived so long because he followed this diet. But when it comes to me I’m used to fast food chains. I know how unhealthy they are. And it was one of my new year resolution, to live a better and healthier life. Thank for the encouragement!

    1. I had to smile when I read your comment. Fast food tastes good and is convenient, When you are at the place when you place more importance on your health than on convenience, you may change your eating habits.

      At a young age, we feel our health is with us forever. When we realize that is not the case, then, we are more willing to change! Enjoy your youth and your health, and all the best for the future!

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