Mediterranean Diet

Listed as the best overall diet in the US News World Report 2020, the Mediterranean Diet is the diet of people living in the region that includes Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Turkey and the Middle East. It is known that people living on the coasts adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea have less cardiovascular diseases and cancer than Americans, and that people living in these regions have a longer life expectancy. Do you think it’s a coincidence that Americans who eat high saturated fat and fast food have more heart disease, cancer and even less life than Mediterranean people who eat vegetables, fruits and olive oil?

What makes the Mediterranean diet the best diet is that it is balanced and varied in terms of nutrients, as well as being sustainable. Although there is no single Mediterranean diet, these diets have common characteristics. The most common common feature is the use of high levels of olive oil. Mediterranean diet; It is a type of diet in which processed, additive-containing foods are consumed less, based on plant-based, seasonal and local foods. The traditional Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, legumes, fruits, oilseeds, grains (mostly whole grains) and olive oil; moderate consumption of fish and wine with meals; It is a diet characterized by low intake of red meat, poultry, saturated fat. The biggest difference between the Mediterranean diet and the Western diet is the fat content and amount you consume. While the Western diet contains high amounts of saturated fat and refined carbohydrates; The Mediterranean diet is higher in monounsaturated fat.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, which was first created in 1993 with the cooperation of Harvard Public Health and the World Health Organization, has been modified with current research, and recommendations about which food and how much we should consume have been determined. At the base of the pyramid are foods of plant origin. These foods meet the majority of the amount of energy we need to take daily and contribute to protecting our health with the fiber and antioxidants they contain. As you go up the pyramid steps, there are foods of animal origin, which are recommended to be consumed at a moderate level, and foods with high fat and sugar content.

In the Mediterranean diet type:

  • Main meals should contain a balanced amount of fruits, vegetables and grains. The rest of the energy requirement should be met from other plant-based foods, dairy products and protein sources. What should be consumed on a daily basis; cereals, vegetables, fruits.

  • 1-2 servings of cereal should be consumed at each main meal. Cereals can be in the form of bread, pasta, rice, couscous and other. Preferably whole grains should be chosen.

  • In order to meet daily vitamin and mineral requirements, vegetables should be 2 or more portions at main meals, at least 1 portion should be consumed raw.

  • Fruit consumption should be 1-2 servings in each main meal. Vegetables and fruits should be preferred in different colors and textures and a wide variety of antioxidant and protective elements should be provided.

  • Although the water requirement varies according to age, physical activity, individual differences and climatic conditions, care should be taken to consume an average of 1.5-2 liters (8-10 glasses of water) per day.

  • In addition to water, unsweetened herbal teas and black tea can be consumed to meet the fluid requirement.

  • Dairy products (yogurt, cheese and other fermented products) should be preferred at a moderate level (2 servings per day) and especially low-fat ones.

  • Olive oil is at the center of this pyramid, especially extra virgin olive oil is recommended.

  • Instead of salt, flavorings such as spices, herbs, garlic and onions should be preferred.

  • Eggs, which are very good sources of animal protein, should be consumed 2-4 portions per week, white meat 2 portions per week, fish and shellfish 2 or more portions per week. When choosing seafood, attention should be paid to diversity. Red meat (less than 2 servings per week and preferably lean) and processed meats (less than 1 serving per week) should be consumed in small quantities and infrequently.

  • Those that are considered appropriate to be consumed rarely are; They are sweets with high sugar and harmful fat content located at the top of the pyramid. Candy, sugary foods (candy, cake, etc.) and beverages can be consumed in small amounts

The Mediterranean diet is effective on many chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. This effect is based on mechanisms such as reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol, inducing autophagy through polyphenols (in grapes, wine, oilseeds and extra virgin olive oil), affecting genes and microbiota. The best diet is the one you can maintain. Considering its nutritiveness, diversity and positive effects on diseases, a Mediterranean diet is among the best things you can do for your health!

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