Today we hear a lot about the Mediterranean diet. UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, has proclaimed the Mediterranean diet one of civilization’s great treasures. But which Mediterranean diet? There are sixteen countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve been to most of them for extended periods of time, and I can tell you that there is no single Mediterranean diet.
What is eaten in Spain is very different from that eaten in Italy, and what is consumed in Italy is distinct from the diet in Greece, not to mention the other 13 countries in the region. If you ask most Americans for their definition of the Mediterranean diet, the response is usually eating pasta (and pizza), drinking red wine, using a little olive oil, drinking espresso, and adding some parmesan cheese to their meals. But that American version doesn’t look anything like the real Mediterranean diet. If you eat that way—and think you’re cutting your risk of heart disease and helping your body shed fat—it’s time to rethink.
THE REAL MEDITERRANEAN MIRACLE
There is no definitive caloric composition that makes up “the Mediterranean diet.” The best that researchers can do is to estimate adherence to food groups they think should be in the Mediterranean diet. A good guess is that about 60% of the calories in the Mediterranean diet are consumed as carbohydrates, 15% as protein, and about 35% as fat, which would make the Mediterranean diet close in macronutrient composition to the current American diet.
Let me say that again: When it comes to carbs, protein, and fat, the Mediterranean diet is almost identical to what the average American eats.
So why is it seemingly so much healthier? One word: polyphenols. The distinguishing feature of the diets in virtually every region that borders the Mediterranean Sea is not pasta but vegetables and fruits. We finally have enough scientific sophistication to realize that it’s the high levels of polyphenols—micronutrients that act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents—that make the Mediterranean diet unique. If you look at the Mediterranean food groups carefully, they usually fall into two broad categories: those rich in polyphenols (fruits, vegetables, wine) eaten in large quantities and those, such as red meat, chicken, and eggs, that are not great sources of polyphenols—and are eaten less frequently.
Furthermore, it is implicit that the fat in the Mediterranean diet is generally rich in monounsaturated fats (from olive oil and nuts), moderate in omega-3 fats (coming from fish), and low in omega-6 and saturated fats (from corn oil and red meat). Foods rich in polyphenols, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 and saturated fats may well explain why, despite having a similar ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to the current American diet, the Mediterranean diet is so much more effective at preventing disease and promoting longevity.
The answer to the question, ‘’Who should follow the Mediterranean diet?’’ is: Everyone. Every single person should follow a healthy diet so that he or she would be healthy in body and in mind. You should remember that you do not follow a diet because it is a fashion or because you want to lose fast a couple of pounds. You follow a diet, because you want to have a healthy living. A diet is a way of living and Mediterranean diet has been such a diet. It has been the way of living for millions of people in the Mediterranean Sea and this kind of living has been ‘’discovered’’ recently by dieticians and nutritionists around the world, who now encourage people to follow it.
Is Mediterranean diet more suited for certain people? The answer is No. Mediterranean diet is for all people of all ages, races, and nationalities. It is as healthy for a white woman in Canada as for a Chinese man in Australia. Following the Mediterranean diet we get protection from the sun, we get protected from cancer and it helps us fight diabetes and other chronic diseases. Mediterranean diet is also good and ssuitable for Vegetarians. Med diet is not a manmade diet. It is a diet which has matured through the years so that it would serve the tastes and needs of the nations in the Mediterranean Sea.
Women should follow the Mediterranean diet. Why? A recent Harvard study has shown that women who have adopted the Mediterranean diet and way of living, live longer and without disease! The study followed the dietary habits of about 10 thousand women who were in their fifties and sixties, 50s and 60s for 15 years. The results were amazing! Women, who followed the Mediterranean diet, eating lots of fruits and vegetables and other Mediterranean food, were more likely to reach their 70s healthy and free of chronic diseases like heart diseases and diabetes. The percentages and ratios were in favor of the Med diet and this is no surprise to most of us and it is certainly another piece of convincing data and supporting data in our efforts to convince the unconvinced!
A letter signed by top physicians was addressed to Jeremy Hunt, the British Health Secretary right before the G8 meetings planned on the topic of Dementia, explaining why the Mediterranean diet may be the best solution for protection against this chronic disease....
A very nice article from Nutritionist and writer Elena Paravantes
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