What is the Mediterranean diet?

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The Mediterranean diet is a dietary pattern that is complemented by the practice of physical exercise and the climate of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and that has multiple health benefits.

In terms of nutrition, the Mediterranean diet is based on ingredients typical of local agriculture in countries with Mediterranean climate, mainly Spain and Italy. It boils down to reducing the consumption of meat and carbohydrates in favour of more vegetable foods and monounsaturated fats.

Basic foods that make it up

Recommended ingredients include vegetables and pulses, fruit, fish, white meats, pasta, rice and nuts, as well as moderate wine consumption. Another of the most recommended products is olive oil, which thanks to its oleic acid and vegetable fats reduces the risk of blockages in the arteries, and has a high content of carotene and vitamin E. The Mediterranean diet promotes the consumption of olive oil as opposed to other types of oil and especially butter. Products such as red meat, sweets and eggs are scarce in this food pattern.

The Mediterranean diet also takes into account the typical recipes of these places, made with seasonal products, as well as traditional cooking methods and other cultural factors such as the habit of meals shared with family or friends, traditions and celebrations.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of this diet are most significant when combined with physical exercise. This should be moderate, but preferably for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If it is difficult due to time constraints, this should be done as regularly as possible. Options such as brisk walking, running, swimming or cycling are advisable, but you can also resort to any other sport or activity that helps burn calories and fat, as well as optimal physical maintenance. It helps to lose weight, control blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, and delay cognitive impairment. Regular exercise also offers protection against chronic diseases such as diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease.

Follow-up of the Mediterranean diet, in addition to helping to control weight and increase physical well-being, improves the functioning of various organs such as the kidney and heart. The cancer mortality rate has also been found to be lower among cancer practitioners than in northern European or American countries, which tend to abuse more fast food, precooked foods and fats.This dietary pattern, which has been passed down from generation to generation over several centuries in the Mediterranean regions, has evolved and embraced new foods and methods of preparation, but maintains the properties and characteristics that make it a model of healthy living, which can be practiced by people of all ages and conditions. The products are easy to get and prepare, and there are countless recipes, both simple and more elaborate, with which to get the most out of this diet. In addition, its importance in the well-being of individuals is not limited to the fact that it is a varied, healthy and balanced diet; it should also be borne in mind that its low content of saturated fats and sugars, and its abundance of vitamins and fibre contribute to its richness in antioxidants.

Risks of the Mediterranean diet

Despite its advantages, following the Mediterranean diet strictly may reduce iron and calcium levels by consuming fewer meat and dairy products. Therefore, you can consult your doctor if you need to take any supplement or specific product rich in these minerals. As for wine, it is advisable to drink it during meals and always in moderation, but is not essential, so it can be suppressed if its intake poses a risk to health.

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