The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is now recognized as one of the healthiest in the world consisting as it does of large amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables, salads,nuts,seeds, omega-3 rich oily fish, olives and olive oil and being comparitively low in dairy products and red meats.
The people of the Mediterranean region, particuarly Greece and Spain, are very fortunate to live in an area where naturally healthy food is readily and cheaply available. The incidence of heart disease and cancer are lower here than anywhere else in the western world and experts now believe this is due in great part to what has become known as the Mediterranean diet.
Modern farming techniques and world wide transport has changed most peoples diets dramatically in the past centuary and it is now widely believed that such changes have had an exteremely detrimental effect on our health. Fortunately the impact of these developments has not had such a catastrophic effect in Mediterranean regions
where to a large extent traditional diets are still followed. Of course with the advent of Globalization and MacDonald’s! this is sadly changing. However we can all learn alot form what has become known as the Mediterranean diet and by adopting it,vastly improve our health and longevity.
The foods that grow natuarlly and abundantly in that region and have always formed a part of the local diet are as follows:-
Olives, avocados, oranges, lemons, garlic, wild asparagus, walnuts, almonds,tomatoes, artichokes, figs, pomegranates, cherries, strawberries, grapes, plums, spinach,broad beans,peppers along with many other of the more common fruits and vegetables. These provide large amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre along with a wide variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals, the importance of which scientists are only now beginning to recognize as they discover more and more healthful benefits of including these elements in our diet.
Historically a lot of the milk was produced from goats and cheese made from goats and ewes milk. Very little red meat is eaten and a large majority of the protein is supplied by oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, tuna, sword fish, boquerones and anchovies.
The main oil used is olive, traditionally cold pressed virgin, and this is used not only for cooking and in salads but also for putting on bread in place of butter.
All these foods provide a wide variety of nutriments which have an astonishing array of claims for improving our health such as lowering cholesterol, improving our immune system which thus not only fights infections but also helps to prevent cancer, increasing our metabolism, improving insulin sensitivity and thus lessening the risk of diabetes. It really has never been so true that you are what you eat. Certainly since moving to Andalucia and adopting the Mediteranean diet myself I have never been so healthy or managed to maintain my ideal weight so easily.
Of coures in addition to all the healthy components of this diet there is the added fact that honey is often used in place of sugar and little refined carbohydrates are eaten.
All in all most experts now agree that the Mediterranean diet is the optimum diet