The Mediterranean Diet provides us with wonderful health benefits and it is both a balanced and a varied diet. Scientific studies show that Extra Virgin Olive Oil will reduce cardiovascular problems, such as strokes and heart attacks, by as much as 30% and that it appears to be the consumption of food rich in monounsaturated fatty acids - such as olive oil - that reduces people’s levels of cholesterol. Olive oil is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine and it is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Many scientific studies have shown that these fatty acids regulate the levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and LDL (“bad cholesterol”) in our blood, and that they protect us against plaque accumulation in our arteries. These beneficial fatty acids are also found in abundance in fish which are rich in Omega 3; and, to a lesser extent, beneficial fatty acids can be gained with a moderate consumption of wine.
Early studies are indicating that the Mediterranean Diet is also associated with a reduced risk of cognitive deterioration.
Mediterranean countries have a lower cardiovascular mortality rate. Keeping to a Mediterranean diet is associated with less abdominal obesity, which is an important factor in predicting diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes.
The main aspects of the Mediterranean diet include a relatively high consumption level of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts accompanied by bread, cereals, olive oil, vinegar and a regular consumption of wine in moderate quantities.
These are the principal characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet:
- An abundance of fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta, rice, cereals, legumes and potatoes.
- Consumption of seasonal foods in their natural state, and always choosing for the freshest.
- Utilizing olive oil in the kitchen both for frying and to give flavor.
- Moderate consumption of cheese and yogurt.
- Moderate consumption of fish, poultry and eggs.
- Moderate consumption of nuts, honey and olives.
- Red meat only a few times a month.
- Moderate consumption of wine (preferably red) during meals.
- The regular utilization of herbs rather than salt.