The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods consumed by people of the eastern Mediterranean – in particular, Crete and southern Italy. When planning the ingredients for dishes in a Mediterranean style, it is good to include variety of products.
The diet includes lots of vegetables, legumes and cereals, fruits, fish and white meat instead of red meat, monounsaturated oils used instead of saturated animal fats and moderate consumption of red wine. Fruits and vegetables are sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients associated with reduced risk of heart and vascular diseases.
Traditional Mediterranean oil produced from olives, nuts and seeds, is characterized by a high content of mono-unsaturated fats and low in saturated fat, and also contains essential fatty acids. These oils protect against heart disease, cancer and help to lower blood pressure and reduce the content of “bad” cholesterol.
However, some components of the Mediterranean diet are known as harmful for health if consumed in excess. When consuming too much oil, nuts or alcohol the body can take more energy than it is necessary and store as fat.
Over time, the healthy Mediterranean diet will become a natural part of an individual lifestyle. Adhering to the Mediterranean diet and maintaining an active way of life are keys to keep people healthy and reduce the risk of various serious diseases.