There is no doubt that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest eating plans for your heart, longevity, and much more. The chances that his dietary approach will ever go out of fashion are ridiculously slim since it is so easy to adapt it into your everyday life
At the epidemiological level, the dietary model of Mediterranean populations has made it possible to highlight the superiority of these diets over those of other Western countries.
Around the Mediterranean, the diet is rich in complex and complementary plant products: cereal products, pulses, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, wine, aromatic plants, and relatively poor in animal and processed products.
The diet of the Western countries of the Northern Hemisphere is, conversely, poor in complex plant products, rich in animal proteins and fats and abundant in sweet and processed products. In the end, the state of health and longevity is much better with the Mediterranean diet.
The traditional Mediterranean diet is a rich source of macronutrients and micronutrients, considering a balanced and varied diet3. Presents the following characteristics in its composition:
- Low in saturated fat,
- High in monounsaturated fats, contained mainly in olive oil.
- Balanced in polyunsaturated fats (omega-6 and omega 3)
- Low in animal protein
- Rich in antioxidants
- Rich in fiber
- Rich in a wide variety of phytochemicals (phenolic compounds, terpenes, and sulfur-containing compounds)
- Relatively low levels of sodium.
Fats are an important component of the traditional Mediterranean diet. The energy provided by fat ranges from 25-to 35% of total energy (calories). Although fat contributions of up to approximately 40% have been reported. While the energy provided by saturated fat is at most 7-8%4. Important sources of fats are olive oil, nuts, seeds, legumes, and green vegetables.
The fat composition of the Mediterranean diet has the following characteristics
- High in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid mainly from olive oil.
- Balanced in polyunsaturated fats (omega 6 and omega 3). Nuts and seeds are an important source of these fats.
- High consumption of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fats (EPA and DHA), from the consumption of fish and seafood.
- Low in saturated fat, due to the low consumption of butter, whole milk, and red meats.
- Relatively high consumption of medium and short-chain fatty acids from the consumption of cheese and yogurt from goat and sheep’s milk. (This fat is not associated with adverse effects on plasma cholesterol levels.)
- Absence of trans fats from industrial foods (e.g. margarine, fast food, and pastries).
More about carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables
They must provide 50% of the total daily energy input. It should be complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potato, bread, and legumes) and not simple (ice cream and pastries). Fruits and vegetables, rich in fiber, ensure sufficient vitamins and minerals and antioxidants
They will contribute approximately 35% of the total energy contribution. Fats of vegetable origin (nuts, olive oil) will be preferred to those of animal origin. An exception is that of oily fish (mackerel, tuna, sardine …) because it is polyunsaturated and helps prevent cardiovascular problems.
- The intake of saturated fatty acids should be below 10%
- The intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids should not exceed 8% of energy consumption
- The intake of monounsaturated fatty acids should provide an energy intake of a maximum of 15%
They will contribute 15% of the total energy. Proteins help regenerate body tissue. The protein of animal origin (eggs, milk, meat, and fish) is more complete than that of vegetable origin (legumes and cereals). However, properly combined vegetables (for example, lentils with rice) provide a protein of similar quality to the animal, but without cholesterol or saturated fats.