PEOPLE WHO EAT A MEDITERRANEAN DIET LIVE LONGER, REPORT A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE, AND ARE LESS LIKELY TO SUFFER FROM CHRONIC DISEASES

The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets because it provides us with the best possible supply of vitamins and minerals. People who eat a Mediterranean diet live longer, report a better quality of life, and are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

As is well known, a Mediterranean diet stands for enjoyment and relaxation. Meals are characterized by the fact that mainly plant-based foods are eaten. Protein, primarily from moderate consumption of fish and poultry as well as legumes, and small amounts of dairy products. It even allows for one glass of red wine a day. A major focus is on unsaturated fatty acids, such as extra virgin olive oil.

Of course, despite many similarities, each of the 21 Mediterranean countries has its own preferences when it comes to certain spices or ingredients. To get a better understanding of what and how people eat and to better understand their mentality, it helps to take a closer look at some meal plans.

In Italy, for example, people like to cook rich and hearty dishes. Flavorful ingredients are used such as prosciutto, anchovies, the typical pastas with tomato sauces, risottos, capers, garlic, mozzarella, olive oil, oregano, mushrooms, pine nuts, and are often seasoned with balsamic vinegar, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves.

In Greece, on the other hand, the focus is on a wide range of light to hearty dishes with a strong taste, which are often refined with yogurt or given a fresh note with lemon. Besides the popular Ladera (dishes cooked in oil), eggplants, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, sheep’s cheese, pomegranates, figs and honey are just some of the main ingredients, which are seasoned with lots of garlic, mint, olive oil, oregano, basil and dill.

France‘s famous cuisine is renowned for its quality as well as its variety. In the south of the country there are many Spanish and Italian influences with lots of tomatoes, garlic, peppers, courgettes (zucchini), eggplants, fresh sea fish and seafood, but also ingredients such as terrines and rillettes. Dijon’s mustard, aromatic olive oil and herbs de Provence are used liberally. The tapenade as well as aioli and fruity jams are also well known.

In North African countries like Morocco and Tunisia, exotic flavors with sweet and savory spices are high on the list. These include ginger, cumin, turmeric, mint, pepper, saffron, cinnamon, and lemon. A lot of vegetables are processed, as well as lamb or mutton, chicken and fish. As a side dish, there are often couscous and sweet dates to snack on. Whether tajines with dried fruit or spicy merguez, harissa and Ras el hanout are spices that give almost everything the typical taste.

On the Iberian Peninsula, nothing goes without olive oil and olives. Born from a mixture of Arabic and Roman influences, Spanish cuisine favors both savory and sweet, which is why aioli, serrano and iberico ham, sausages such as chorizo and fuet, rice dishes, tortilla and anchovies are often paired with manchego cheese, almonds and nuts. Intense aromas come from oregano, saffron, rosemary and thyme.

 


Here are a few simple basics on how to add a healthy and typically Mediterranean touch to your diet bit by bit

+ Use extra virgin olive oil as the main supplier of fat

+ Use sea salt instead of table salt

+ Use fresh herbs and spices like rosemary, basil, and thyme

+ Buy seasonally and fresh from the market

+ Use garlic and onions in large quantities

+ Make vegetables the main part of meals

+ Enjoy fresh fruit every day

+ Include omega-3-rich fish in your diet

+ Enjoy poultry instead of red meat once or twice a week

+ Discover legumes as the most important source of protein

+ Snack on nuts instead of sweets every day

+ Natural yogurt instead of sugared fruit yogurt

+ Replace white rice and pasta with whole grains like bulgur, barley, and spelt

+ Cow milk products through sheep and goat milk products

+ Eat more green leafy vegetables like nettle, chard, and spinach

+ Enjoy red wine in moderation. (While research has shown that small to moderate amounts of red wine are good for the heart and circulatory system, amounts in excess of the recommended one- to two- glasses a day are discouraged)

+ Eat with friends and family instead of alone


WHAT TO AVOID

– Consider sweets, and sugary pastries as an occasional indulgence

– Avoid sugary drinks

– Reduce consumption of red meat

– Avoid breaded and fried foods

– Eliminate processed foods

– Eliminate refined grains and added sugars

– Minimize consumption of white bread and refined carbohydrates

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