One dominant ingredient that is very much identified with the Mediterranean diet is olive oil for cooking. Since the Mediterranean Diet is a traditional diet of the poor coastal regions of Crete, Southern Italy and parts of Greece, the use of olive oil differs compared to countries in the other parts of the globe. In Northern Italy, for instance, olive oil is usually served as salad dressing.
Ironically the Mediterranean Diet, which may be misconstrued as majority seafood diet because of its identification to the Mediterranean Sea, does not suggest all seafood diet after all. The diet presents high olive oil consumption, legumes, vegetables & fruits, unrefined cereals; moderate consumption of dairy products such as cheese & yogurt; moderate to high consumption of fish; low consumption of meat, especially processed meat and moderate consumption of wine. The total fat content in this diet is only 25% to 35% of calories.
Olive oil becomes the principal source of fat in the Mediterranean Diet. Olive oil contains high level of monounsaturated fats which is proven to reduce coronary heart disease. Foods containing monounsaturated fats have also been proven to lower LDL or low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Studies have yet to prove however that there is a possibility of increasing HDL of high density lipoprotein cholesterol when you take in foods containing monounsaturated fats.
The Mediterranean diet is high in dietary fiber. It is recommended that adults should take in 20-35 grams of dietary fiber a day. Plants are a good source of fiber. Soybeans & peas which are legumes, contains dietary fibers. Prunes, commonly known to manage good bowel movement are another great source of dietary fiber. Others are rye, barley, oats, berries, bananas, the inside of apples & pears, broccoli, carrots, artichokes, onions, sweet potatoes. All these contain soluble fiber. Whole grain foods, nuts, lignans, wheat, green beans, cauliflower, celery, avocado tomatoes on the other hand are those that contain insoluble fiber.
Furthermore, studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes and even provides protection against type 2 diabetes. It also proved to be one of the best ways to lose weight as the Mediterranean diet, combined with low fat and low carb diet effectively reduces between 7-12 pounds of body weight. Those who advocate strict Mediterranean diet reduces cancer risks, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases too.
Furthermore, Mortality rate on those who observe strict Mediterranean diet, is much lower than those who are not. Thus, nutritionists and other members of the health team have been considering Mediterranean diet as the healthiest choice of food for anyone.
Moreover, since the ingredients (mostly fresh fruits and vegetables) as well as the preparation (grilling or eaten raw) practiced in Mediterranean cooking constitutes to a low-calorie low-fat diet, this has become very popular to many weight watchers and health buffs.
Avid followers of Mediterranean diet includes Dancing with the star co-host, Brooke Burke; Sexy A-list star and product endorser, Penelope Cruz; and Show host, Rachel Ray, to name a few.