Mediterranean diet, as the name suggests, refers to diet eaten in Southern Italy, Greece island of Crete and other areas of Greece in early 1960s. At that time, the average life expectancy of the region was highest in the world and incidence of heart diseases, certain cancers and other diseases was lowest in the world.
The diet includes olive oil, legumes, fish and other sea food, whole grains, nuts and fresh fruits and vegetables. Many studies concluded that the diet is good not only for physical health but also for mental health and reduces the risk of many diseases from cancer to depression.
Researches proved that healthy diet along with healthy lifestyle is the secret to region’s good health and long life expectancy. The routine fat intake is lower than 35% of their daily calories and much of that too from heart healthy olive oil.
How does the diet work?
It is the overall diet approach that makes the difference. It is the combination of foods, rather than single superfood stuff that makes a healthy way to eat.
Hence, if you are taking unhealthy diet adding one or two elements from Mediterranean diet isn’t going to make any difference. On the other hand, if you change whole of your eating habits, reducing processed food intake, increasing seafood consumption and opting for variety of foods and vegetables can add years to your life.
Implementing the diet plan in your daily life
Despite the health benefits of the diet, average person cannot afford to increase the costly food items like fish and olive oil in their diet. The move towards Mediterranean diet can be made by substituting costly olive oil with other plant based oils like soybean and canola oil.
Joan Salge Blake, clinical associate professor and dietetic internship director Boston University, offered the following advice for less wealth health conscious consumers:-
1. Buy in-season.
2. Look for variety and sale.
3. Don’t overcook
4. Consider frozen and canned food.
5. Try affordable alternatives.
Mediterranean diet is an important part of healthy lifestyle followed by the Mediterranean region. The region has many cultural elements different from that of other parts of the world.
“We need to redefine the Mediterranean diet, the truth is that it’s a lifestyle. It’s the whole approach. It’s the food. It’s the social interaction. It’s getting the right kind of exercise. It’s being outside. It’s getting sunlight and sunshine.” Dr. Aeem Malhotra , British cardiologist, told New York Times.
The habit of Siesta- enjoying shuteyes in the afternoon for a few minutes to a few hours- is very common the region. The life in the region comes to halt in the afternoon for mesimeri ( Greek for quiet time).
Other life routines in the region include walking to stores rather than driving. Greeks are habitual mountain climbers in their daily routine as majority of Greece is covered with mountainous region. Eating with family or friends and taking long time to eat is another thing in Greece culture. Taking long time to eat reduces the possibility of over-eating and hence reducing the risk of obesity.