The Mediterranean diet is number one on the nutrition list for the healthiest food in the world, here’s why.
The food that is offered on the Mediterranean is consistently voted as being top of the list when it comes to the ultimate healthy western diet. The general focus of this diet circles around whole foods, this is the diet of paupers and princes, and none of it need be made by a machine!
Think locally-pressed extra virgin olive oil, freshly caught seafood, huge juicy tomatoes, bread and olives, freshly-made goats cheese from your local farmer all laid out for the whole family to sit and savour for hours over a long, leisurely lunch…are you starting to see the picture?
The results of a Mediterranean diet show individuals having a low rate of heart disease, chronic disease, and obesity as well as a longer life expectancy in comparison to other diets around the western world.
“The Mediterranean tradition offers a cuisine rich in colours, aromas and memories, which support the taste and the spirit of those who live in harmony with nature.”
A healthy diet needs to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, greens, whole grains, protein, fibre and heathy fats. Avoiding processed, high sugar or salt content foods is a major advancement towards a healthy diet but the Mediterranean diet walks in to show everyone how it’s done!
“The origins of the “Mediterranean Diet” are lost in time because they sink into the eating habits of the Middle Ages, in which the ancient Roman tradition – on the model of the Greek – identified in bread, wine and oil products a symbol of rural culture and agricultural (and symbols elected of the new faith), supplemented by sheep cheese, vegetables, little meat and a strong preference for fish and seafood.”
Being close to the sea is an obvious advantage when it comes to the fish and seafood content of the diet, however the hillside farming also comes in handy to compliment this. Pulses and beans feature regularly in stews and soups alongside poultry and plenty of vegetables. The red meat content is relatively low and sharing family mealtime is a priority.
“The Mediterranean diet, known primarily as a food model, enhances the quality and safety of foods and their link to the land of origin. It offers a simple cuisine, but rich in imagination and tastes, taking full advantage of all aspects of a healthy diet.”
What elevates the Mediterranean Diet above others is the inclusion of healthy fats (polyunsaturated) to practically every meal. Olive oil is a fantastic contributor to this, as are all the oily fish, olives, nuts and other seafoods. Overall, this diet is a combination diet which includes all types of whole foods, this variation is key to our health as opposed to just trying to add in healthy foods here and there to an otherwise not so healthy daily routine.
Let’s take a look at a day in the life of a mediterranean diet in Spain closer up… to start the day a classic Andalucían breakfast, for example, could consist of a freshly squeezed orange juice alongside some locally baked toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic, doused in olive oil and topped with blended fresh tomatoes. Also known as ‘pan con tomate’, this is a firm favourite throughout the south coast of Spain. Lunch may start with some local olives, a gazpacho or salmorejo (cold pepper or tomato soup) followed by a freshly caught fish, anchovies in vinegar, grilled squid, octopus, clams, sardines, a big mixed salad and boiled potatoes. Desert is never the main event in the Mediterranean diet, but if it does feature it will be traditional and homemade and often involve fresh fruit. For dinner a hearty stew style soup with chicken or fish (or neither), chick peas, lentils, a range of vegetables, greens and lots of herbs.
“The Mediterranean Diet is characterised by the balanced use of foods rich in fibre, antioxidants and unsaturated fats, a healthy approach designed to reduce the consumption of animal fats and cholesterol in a diet with an appropriate balance between energy intake and expenditure.”
All the elements of the diet combined help to lower inflammation in the body, improve blood vessel function and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. It also serves to maintain heart health as well as brain function being associated with less cognitive decline, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and better memory and executive function. It’s not a new fangled fad diet nor does it hone in on superfoods as key components. It is the inclusion of all the necessary food groups and a wide range of them that consistently makes this the chosen one. Oh, and did I mention that a glass of wine here and there is considered part of the journey?
“The Mediterranean Diet is a universally appreciated nutritional model that belongs to the cultural, historical, social, territorial and environmental and is closely related to the lifestyle of the Mediterranean peoples throughout their history.”
The bottom line and guide to adapting to a Mediterranean diet is as follows; use olive oil to cook with and dress your food with, eat all types of fresh vegetables local and seasonal to the region, eat more fish, up your whole grain intake, eat a handful of nuts (raw, unsalted) each day, eat more fruits for desert, eat proportionally and in moderation, live from the land and sea, enjoy a glass of red wine with your meal (responsibly), don’t rush mealtimes, savour the moment and take time between courses. Eating should be an enjoyable ritual that we take pleasure in experiencing – as well as the ingredients this is a major factor in achieving the mediterranean style of living well.
*all quotes cited from a publication by the Iranian Journal of Public Health, 2016.
“The success of the Mediterranean diet is its composition: a varied diet characterised by a high consumption of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, fish, eggs, along with a moderate intake of meat, oil and wine. A diet rich in tradition and in association with an active lifestyle is the model that everyone should follow.”
Online diploma courses in nutrition
Qualify as a Nutritional Therapist with one of our popular distance learning diploma courses in nutrition. Click on the course title for more information and to enrol:
- Child & Adolescent Nutrition
- Ethical & Sustainable Eating
- Clinical Nutrition
- Advanced Nutrition
- Nutrition for Age 50 Plus
- Plant-Based Nutrition
- Sport & Exercise Nutrition
- Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we have been teaching Holistic Health for over 23 years. To see our selection of courses, visit our A-Z course listing page where we have over 60 holistic therapies to choose from!