What is it??
The term “Mediterranean Diet” refers to the food habits of several Mediterranean regions associated with the cultivation of the olive. Even though the Mediterranean diet patterns vary by geographic region, they all share several common features:
- • A high consumption of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals (bread, pasta) and nuts, which are eaten fresh or minimally processed so they retain their nutritional characteristics.
- • The consumption of olive oil as the main source of fat in the diet.
- • Moderate ingestion of fish and fowl and low ingestion of red meat.
- • Moderate consumption of dairy products (yoghurt and cheese) and eggs (between 0 and 4 per week).
- • Moderate consumption of wine, especially at meals.
What does it do?
The first study that noted the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean Diet was the “Seven Countries Study” conducted in the 1950s. This study analysed the cardiovascular risk factor among 13,000 men aged 40-59 who lived in seven countries: Finland, United States, Japan, Holland and three Mediterranean countries: Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. The countries with the Mediterranean Diet showed much lower mortality rates due to cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction, stroke, etc.) than the other countries which did not follow the Mediterranean dietary pattern, which revealed the Mediterranean Diet’s protective effect against this illness.Subsequent studies have examined the effects of the different components of the Mediterranean Diet on other populations, and they have generally found a drop in the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and death. One of the most important studies researched the effect of the Mediterranean Diet on patients who had already suffered from myocardial infarction. The patients followed a Mediterranean Diet for 27 months, and the results showed that death from cardiovascular disease was 70% lower in the group that followed the Mediterranean Diet compared to the group that did not. Subsequently, many other studies have demonstrated how the Mediterranean Diet can lower the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease precisely because of its beneficial effects on most of the risk factors that trigger this disease, such as LDL cholesterol.