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What is the Mediterranean Diet and Why is it Considered to be so Healthy?

In Recent Years, Several Studies have Investigated the Relationship Between the Mediterranean Diet and People's Health and Have Concluded that, in Addition to Being Linked to Longevity, it has Turned out to be one of the Healthiest in the World.

mediterranean food plate

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LatinAmerican Post | Daniel Alejandro Vergara

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Leer en español: ¿Qué es la dieta mediterránea y porque se considera tan saludable?

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with different health benefits. Research has concluded that it can help fight cancer and prevent various cardiovascular problems.

Although when hearing “Mediterranean diet” it is possible to imagine that it is a concept that involves all the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, this type of diet is a little more specific. The doctor in pharmacy María Rodríguez Palmero assures, in a research from the University of Barcelona, that this nutritional regimen is a style of eating that was developed in a specific region of the Mediterranean. “In a strict sense, the Mediterranean diet corresponds to the eating pattern of the island of Crete, part of Greece, and southern Italy in the early 1960s. This geographical and temporal precision is based on epidemiological studies that showed that the life expectancy of adults in these areas of southern Europe was among the highest in the world, while the rate of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases related to diet was among the lowest in the world”, explains Rodríguez.

One of the main foods that has been the subject of many studies that are part of this diet is olive oil. While in the Mediterranean the oils are of vegetable origin, in the north of Europe they come from animals, something that further increases the consumption of saturated fats and can contribute to the appearance of cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Rodríguez Palmero affirms that oleic acid (from olive oil) is considered in the world of nutrition as an antithrombotic agent, in relation to other types of oils.

It is very possible that the use of olive oil is related to the consumption of various types of vegetables and legumes in salads, which are also known to provide important nutritional value to the human body. Likewise, the high consumption of fish and the low consumption of red meat are related to the balanced consumption of fats necessary for the human body and, consequently, the reduction of heart problems.

In this sense, Mediterranean foods are beneficial for health, since they have a low contribution of animal protein with saturated fats. On the contrary, they provide monounsaturated fats, Omegas 3 and 6, are rich in fiber and diverse in antioxidants.

A study published in the journal Harvard Health Publishing, which involved a thousand people in Spain with coronary artery disease (accumulation of plaque in the arteries of the heart), yielded relevant findings on the benefits of this diet. The study divided the participants into two groups, one following a Mediterranean diet with foods high in monounsaturated fat and the other a low-fat diet with less monounsaturated fat.

Regarding the results of the investigation, it is stated that: “Seven years later, people in the Mediterranean diet group had a 26% lower risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, compared to people in the high in fat group. Once again, a study demonstrated the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and its good fats”.

Regarding the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on cancer prevention, research by Lidia Jahuira Huarcaya, from Nobert Wiener University, suggests that this type of diet contributes to reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. It is necessary to clarify that this disease ranks as the fourth type of cancer most suffered in the world. As stated in the study: “it reaches an incidence of over 20% in men and 16% in women”.

The research analyzed medical and nutritional studies on this subject carried out in the last 5 years and managed to determine that, in effect, there is a clear relationship between the consumption of foods from the Mediterranean diet and the reduction of the risk of suffering from this type of cancer. Likewise, it encourages more research to be carried out on this subject in Latin America, since there are not many data on the influence of the Mediterranean diet on the health of people in this region.

“There is a reduction in the incidence of colorectal cancer when there is adherence to a diet based on the Mediterranean diet, in addition, the study indicates that the population analyzed through the different cohort studies reached more than one and a half million people. However, due to the nature of the diet, and whose adaptation in Latin America has not been studied in large population studies, the studies included in the analysis are from the United States and Europe."

Also read: Why Should I Save my Baby's Umbilical Cord?

What foods to eat in a Mediterranean diet?

Without a doubt, these investigations have contributed to the worldwide knowledge of the benefits of this type of diet and more and more people are including the Mediterranean diet in their daily lives. That is why we recommend a list of 10 foods that you cannot miss in the refrigerator or on the table:

  1. Extra virgin olive oil.

  2. Fruits.

  3. Wines.

  4. Legumes.

  5. Various dairy products (cured cheeses - semi-cured, yogurt).

  6. Bread.

  7. Fresh fish.

  8. Balsamic vinegar.

  9. Nuts.

  10. Diversity of vegetables with little cooking.