The concept of “Mediterranean diet” refers to all foods based on the traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, San Marino and Morocco.
More than a particular dietary proportion, it is a different way of thinking about food and, to some extent, a way of life; an associated with various benefits for the health and general well-being of people. In this article we discuss the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
The main benefits of the Mediterranean diet
Before embarking on the benefits of this type of diet, we need to consider some concepts. No matter how much you want to adopt a specific lifestyle, the World Health Organization (WHO) reminds us that the energy base of every human being should consist of carbohydrates, as these should occupy 55-60% of the daily calorie intake. For its part, fats will count for 30% and proteins for the remaining 10 to 15%.
Although carbohydrates are our main source of energy, we must also remember that the good ones are always complex or branched carbohydrates, found in legumes, vegetables and tubers, for example. On the other hand, simple sugars in large quantities should be avoided (glucose + fructose from table sugar for example), because they break down quickly and generate peaks in glycemic indices.
So, whatever your diet, it is best to stick to the 55/30/15 rule that we have given you, since carbohydrates are always the basis of vital energy.
On another side, the Mediterranean diet is based on the consumption of foods close to the marine environment, the countryside or the sea on the plate. The use of fresh, light, tasty ingredients and, above all, obtained on the basis of production methods that respect the environment and the environment is encouraged. Discover the benefits of this diet in the following lines.
1. It’s cheap
We know that everyday life is stressful for most readers, which is why we often resort to purchasing pre-cooked or highly processed foods (like sausages, sausages or ready meals). In addition to being less healthy because of the additives and condiments they contain, these menus are a little more expensive than buying raw materials and following recipes at home.
The Mediterranean diet is based on foods rich in healthy carbohydrates, such as potatoes, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans, beans), rice or pasta. These ingredients are very easy to process in the kitchen and also inexpensive.
A kilo of chickpeas costs an average of 2.19 euros, while the same amount of red meat reaches almost 10 euros. If you use fresh vegetables and legumes as the main ingredients, you will find that your pocket suffers less with every purchase.
2. It is rich in antioxidants
Cellular metabolism normally produces compounds called “reactive oxygen species” or “free radicals”, byproducts of oxygen metabolism and playing a very important role in cell signaling. . The worst of these free radicals are that they react with DNA and adjacent cell structures, damaging them in a process known as “oxidative stress”.. This encourages mutation rates and cell senescence, deleterious long-term events.
On the other hand, antioxidant molecules are those capable of delaying or preventing oxidative stress in the cellular environment, because they “eliminate” free radicals from the machinery. Many fruits and vegetables found in the Mediterranean diet are rich in antioxidants, such as green tea, tomatoes, artichokes, garlic, and other natural products from the garden. Therefore, many beneficial properties are attributed to them.
3. Prevents obesity and cardiovascular disease
To say that the Mediterranean diet predicts obesity and the risk of heart problems is not a matter of opinion but of scientific data. Various studies and meta-analyzes (such as “Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches for the management of type 2 diabetes”) have shown, by analyzing various groups of samples, that the Mediterranean diet reduces factors that lead to cardiovascular problems.
4. Encourage them to eat less meat
It’s official: the World Health Organization has classified ultra-processed meats (such as sausages, salami and other meat products) in group 1, “carcinogenic to humans”.
Some 34,000 deaths per year have been shown to be due to excessive consumption of processed meat products, because 50 grams of these foods ingested per day increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
The Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of fish, chicken and milder meats, as we also point out that red meats are the subject of research (they are probably carcinogenic). If the protein is obtained from the sea, the chances of developing certain conditions are reduced.
5. It’s delicious
It may seem obvious at this point, but the Mediterranean diet is not just based on its properties. This way of life is based on natural, fresh, sweet but tasty foods, such as fish, olive oil, dressings that do not mask the natural flavors of food and a harmonious simplicity between the countryside and the sea.
A grilled sea bass accompanied by sautéed vegetables is a delicious dish and also has a minimum of fat (1.3 grams of fat per 100 g of meat). In other words, the Mediterranean diet knows that taste doesn’t equal empty calories.
6. It is environmentally friendly
The data is clear: to produce 100 grams of head meat requires about 7000 liters of water, while the same amount of lentils requires about 50 liters. The data speaks for itself: Eating vegetables and pulses reduces the demand for water and resources that we demand on Earth.
7. It keeps you agile and active
The Mediterranean diet fits perfectly into the 55/30/15 rule that we mentioned above. Imagine a dish of chickpeas with cooked chicken, peppers, onions, vegetable broth and bay leaf.
Chickpeas are the main source of energy in the recipe (carbohydrates, 55%), the chicken is responsible for providing the necessary fats and proteins, and the vegetables provide micronutrients, antioxidants, fiber and other beneficial components. in small quantities.
In other words, based on carbohydrates as the main ingredients, you will never be hungry or tired if you eat Mediterranean dishes in the right doses. It is without a doubt one of the most beneficial and easy to apply natural food choices on a daily basis.
8. Improve your life expectancy
To explain this concept, it suffices to refer to the previously mentioned points, in particular the third and fourth. Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in high-income countries, while colorectal cancers rank 7th among the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
While the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and eliminates the consumption of processed meats (remember they are confirmed carcinogens), it is clear that consumption can help maintain a healthier life for longer.
Either way, keep in mind that diet doesn’t do much if you drink, take medication, don’t exercise, or lead an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Diet is not a miracle, but one more factor that leads to systemic well-being.
9. Reduces the risk of diabetes
The Mediterranean diet is based on complex carbohydrates, i.e. those found in legumes, tubers, rice and other plant substances. Since these polysaccharides are metabolized slowly, blood sugar is regulated with the same energy supply. To give you an idea, the glycemic index of fresh pasta is calculated at 55, while table sugar has a value of up to 84.
10. It could reduce the risk of cancer, but beware of blunt claims
The professional study Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis, published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2008, found that adhering to the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of dying from cancer by 6%.
Many other surveys have observed this correlation, but not in all cases has been reliable. Thus, in this area, the “could”, the “seems to be” or the “can indicate” must prevail, since absolute correlations cannot yet be established.
In short, the Mediterranean diet provides all the energy a human needs to function, but with a minimal amount of saturated fat, additives, empty calories, and potentially carcinogenic foods. After reading these lines, what do you hope to adopt the Mediterranean lifestyle?
- Ajala, O., English, P. and Pinkney, J. (2013). Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches for the management of type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97 (3), 505-516.
- The 10 leading causes of death, WHO. Retrieved June 5 from https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death
- Sofi, F., Cesari, F., Abbate, R., Gensini, GF and Casini, A. (2008). Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and state of health: meta-analysis. Bmj, 337.