The diet commonly referred to as the Mediterranean cuisine is not revolutionary or new trend in the diet world. It is a well-known healthy diet that, in its basic settings, is a proper and balanced diet that provides the body with all the nutrients it needs.
What is Mediterranean Cuisine?
It is a challenge to define and fully understand the Mediterranean cuisine, since several countries make up the Mediterranean region, and each country carries its customs and traditions that reflect the specificities of individual cuisines.
Although this type of diet exists since ancient times, the concept of Mediterranean cuisine has existed since the 50s of the last century. American physiologist and doctor of science, Ancel Keys, first observed the Mediterranean diet pattern. Since then, it has been noticed that people who follow the traditional pattern of the Mediterranean diet are many times less likely to suffer from chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease.
The main features of the great Mediterranean diet are:
- High intake of unsaturated fatty acids
- Reduced intake of saturated fatty acids
- Low intake of meat and meat products
- Moderate alcohol consumption
- Moderate consumption of milk and dairy products
- High intake of bread, cereals, and vegetables
The Mediterranean diet is not vegetarian because you mostly eat fish and seafood, and moderately consume meat products. Also, a large amount of fresh food is regularly on the plate, such as fruits and vegetables.
As the Mediterranean diet is based on countries where olives are grown, and olive oil is produced, the use of olive oil is the basis of the Mediterranean diet.
Milk is not consumed in large quantities, but you do eat a lot of cheese and yogurt. Alcohol is moderately consumed, most often with food, and it is mostly wine. It is essential to mention that very few refined carbohydrates, processed, and semi-finished products can be found within the Mediterranean diet.
Where is Mediterranean Food From?
Within the Mediterranean, there are different groups of countries:
- Western countries– Spain, Italy, and Malta
- Adriatic– Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania
- Eastern countries – Greece, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, and Egypt
- North African countries– Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia
Let’s see what type of Mediterranean cuisine is characteristic for each previously mentioned group of countries:
- Western Countries – they mostly eat pork meat, with bread, potatoes, pasta, vegetables, and legumes.
- Adriatic – this area is characterized by high intakes of white flour and dairy products, and the meat they eat the most is beef.
- Eastern Countries – they are characterized by the consumption of white flour, okra dishes, and spices such as parsley and oregano, and the most common meat they consume is chicken.
- In the North African Countries, rice, couscous, and barley flour are consumed more than white flour, and foods such as potatoes, chickpeas, and lamb are the basis of their diet.
Mediterranean cuisine contains food that is minimally processed, which is local and seasonal. It is characterized by moderate use of meat, milk, cheese, high intake of carbohydrates (potatoes, polenta, dough, rice), fresh fruits, and vegetables (rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber). For the Mediterranean diet, regular use of fish is a must (which represents the ideal source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) as well as the use of fat. Which is almost all contained in the form of olive oil. The primary sweetener of the Mediterranean is honey.
The pyramid of the Mediterranean diet has adapted to today’s way of life. Therefore contains recommendations for the day, week and takes into account the preferable amount of calories to ultimately create a healthy and balanced diet. Thus, the recommendation would be: three main meals each day should contain three basic groups of nutrients.
One to two servings in the form of bread, rice, couscous, or pasta. And it would be desirable to have the integral variants of the cereals.
Take one or two pieces of fruit with a meal. You can consider it a dessert.
Should be present at lunch and dinner, more than two types, one of which should be raw.
It is in the very center of the pyramid and should be the most critical source of our daily fat intake. It is best used as cold-pressed and for cooking. Daily dose: One tablespoon per person.
Particularly healthy is a blue fish that is rich in essential fatty acids and high-value proteins. What is particularly interesting is the thesis that more expensive fish is better when it comes to Mediterranean cuisine, is not valid. It is often that cheaper bluefish are richer with healthy and beneficial essential fatty acids.
Other Key Flavors
Dry spices, fresh herbs, garlic, and onions are great ways to enhance the flavors of food and thus reduce the possibility of adding too much salt.
Olives, nuts, and various types of seeds are excellent choices for a meal and are sources of healthy fats.
Respecting religious and social beliefs, moderate intake of wine and other fermented beverages – one or two glasses a day is advisable.
To digest Mediterranean cuisine in the best possible way, one should drink about 50 to 68 Oz of water throughout the day. Although, needs may vary depending on age, body conditions, physical activity, and individual characteristics.
Mediterranean Cuisine is More Than Food
The superb Mediterranean diet promotes cooking together, gathering around the table, and sharing food. The family table today is taking an increasingly important place in shaping healthy living habits. Therefore, we can say that the Mediterranean diet also has a sociologically significant aspect.
Before you reach the end of the article, here is an interesting fact. The Spaniards will soon have the longest lifespan. By 2040 experts expect, on average, every Spaniard will live around 85.8 years, which is ahead of the Japanese. Mediterranean cuisine is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for that prediction!
Need More Help With The Mediterranean Diet?
Check out our proven 28 day Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan. There have been over 1000 people that have tested it out and loved it!
So stop wasting your time and money on diet plans that don’t work and check it out now. Click the image below: