The Mediterranean diet is based on diet and a healthy lifestyle: Dr. Alessandro Saibene, an expert in dietetics in Milan, describes it in detail
Why do we speak of a "Mediterranean" diet?
The term Mediterranean diet, coined by the famous American researcher Ancel Keys, refers to the eating habits of the populations facing the Mediterranean basin. The researcher showed a great interest in this topic, as it is statistically known that in these populations there is a lower rate of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and tumors compared to the rest of the so-called Western civilizations. Numerous researches over time have confirmed and expanded these observations, to the point that in 2010 UNESCO declared the Mediterranean diet Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
What are the main rules of the Mediterranean diet?
I like to underline how the so-called "rules" are not limited exclusively to eating habits, but also include lifestyle. First of all, an active lifestyle is essential; another fundamental point is to reserve the necessary time for meals, eating calmly, chewing well and encouraging conviviality whenever possible. From a purely alimentary point of view, it can be said that the Mediterranean diet provides for a lower consumption of meat in favor of fish and a lower consumption of refined cereals replaced mainly by whole grains, thus increasing consumption of vegetables, fruits and vegetables, preferring those Seasonal.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
As explained before, it is likely that the beneficial effect of the Mediterranean Diet is linked to all the rules of food and lifestyle, rather than to a single component. However, by going into more detail about the individual food groups, it can be said that:
• Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and should be made up mostly of integral carbohydrates. The fiber contained in them slows glucose uptake, reducing the post-prandial insulin peak and promoting intestinal function.
• The use of oil, especially the extra-virgin oil, to the detriment of animal fats, provides the body with a good content of unsaturated fatty acids, which have a strong antioxidant action, with undoubted benefits for cardiovascular disease and prevention of the onset of some tumors. However, it should be noted that lately there are several studies that partially "rehabilitate" animal fats: after all, the Mediterranean diet provides for a reduction in consumption, not their abolition.
• Legumes are an excellent source of protein and also of dietary fiber, therefore their consumption must also be encouraged as an alternative to meat consumption.
• Vegetables are for many reasons an indispensable element, above all for their contribution of vitamins and minerals and then because they are rich in fiber and water. Their consumption is therefore essential since it favors intestinal and renal function and provides a good amount of vitamins and minerals, essential for the proper functioning of our metabolism. It is good practice that the consumption of vegetables follow some simple rules, such as that of using local products, which guarantee greater freshness and that of changing the "colors" of vegetables, as their combination provides the right mix of nutrients.
• Fruit has a high content of simple carbohydrates: for this reason it should be eaten, when possible, with peel, which provides a good quantity of fiber. There are numerous nutrients contained in it, too long to list them all here: I think it is important to know that it should be consumed daily, and even in this case it is good to alternate the quality.