The US News & World Report categorized as The best diet in the world for the fifth year in a row. This is the Mediterranean diet. Popular around the world for its health-promoting properties – particularly in the areas of weight management, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease – its simplicity and balance, combined with natural and delicious foods, make the Mediterranean diet one lifestyle and not just a dietary model over The basis of solid nutritional concepts and the importance of physical activity.
Dietitian Ambra Morelli It explains in detail what its properties are, how it works and why it is particularly good.
What are the pillars of the Mediterranean diet?
In one picture that could include notions of complexity and scientific rigor, I would say the pillar is the balance of nutrients that the Mediterranean diet provides. I am referring to the balance between human nutritional needs and the quality and quantity of different foods, and thus nutrients. A supportive substrate whose superstructure consists of a series of nutrients and nutrients, which symbolize this dietary pattern, which constitute an ideal and healthy food mixture, working in synergy.
In short, it appears to be a complex configuration game. To simplify while maintaining scientific rigor, let’s imagine it as a series of ingredients for a cooking recipe, so to be “Mediterranean” you need to have the following “ingredients”:
- Fresh vegetables, legumes and fruits (suppliers of fiber, vitamins and minerals). Moreover, legumes are a valuable alternative to dishes (a source of vegetable proteins)
- Whole grains (because they are high in fiber, but not only)
- Modest amounts of extra virgin olive oil (for monounsaturated fats)
- Nuts, it is better to eat them at least several times a week (almonds stand out among these due to the high intake of vitamin E)
- Oily fish or white meat (quality protein and unsaturated fats), and sometimes unreserved red meat. Meat, however, is in modest quantities and above all not every day
- Milk and low-fat dairy products in limited quantities (not forgetting the importance of calcium but to reduce the consumption of animal fats)
- wine? For millennial traditions, not for dietary necessity but if so, in moderation (pay attention to alcohol consumption)
Finally, to make these foods into fun recipes, you need to sprinkle a small amount of salt, preferably using aromatic herbs (polyphenols), and then add a few more seats at the table to share the pleasure of the meal and be happy. Last but not least, to complement the Mediterranean lifestyle, remember not to be lazy by devoting a little physical activity.
Is it true that the Mediterranean diet protects against the risks of diseases such as diabetes and some types of cancer? And why?
Yes, this has been proven time and time again by scientific studies. More and more, in a more detailed way, the properties of individual foods in the Mediterranean diet are being studied and their intervention in the maintenance of health but also in the treatment of diseases that are found more frequently such as, in fact, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Above all, they have shown great efficacy in prevention, obviously the main goal, but also in the treatment of the same. This is mainly due to the intake of fiber, the reduction in fats in general, the reduction in simple sugars, the satiating power which in itself means reshaping the attitude to overeating and thus reducing obesity, as well as as a factor in favor of diabetes but also the emergence of some cancers, and in general the ability On the contrast of inflammatory processes.
In particular, its preventive efficacy on some gastrointestinal tumors and its preventive efficacy against type 2 diabetes and related diseases such as heart disease and obesity have been demonstrated thanks to the properties of the individual foods that make up the diet. . Among these, the nutritional properties of almonds stand out, the beneficial effects of which have been highlighted by more than 25 years of scientific research. The research began to understand the benefits of almonds for heart health and was launched with a study of the effects of a diet rich in the monounsaturated fats from almonds on cholesterol levels (for more information see Spiller, GA, DJA Jenkins, LN Cragen, JE Gates, or Bussella, K. Brah, C. Rodd, M. Stephenson, R. Superco. 1992. Effect of a diet rich in monounsaturated fats from almonds on plasma cholesterol and lipoproteins. J am. Nutr.11 (2): 126-130. Today, decades later, almonds are one of the most studied foods globally, and a large number of investigations can be counted on analyzing their properties for cardiovascular health, weight management, and diabetes.
A 30-gram portion of almonds, incorporated into an individual’s diet several times a week, according to the “Guidelines for a Healthy Diet,” provides protein (6 g), dietary fiber (4 g), good fats, and important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E (7.7 mg). ), magnesium (81 mg) and potassium (220 mg), with a low glycemic index. Therefore, the consumption of almonds is an important component in the context of a healthy eating style, and even better if eaten as a snack, as a smart alternative to other types of snacks, and is often less effective from the point of view not only of health but also of satiety even on the the long term.
Is the Mediterranean diet suitable for everyone?
Sure, for everyone and always: starting as children (and what’s more, as an educational legacy of learning how to eat well) right up to old age. The great variance in taste also offered by the Mediterranean diet assures everyone the possibility of a good choice and one ingredient, and not only, such as satiety with the “quiet” consumption of food.
What is the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and carbohydrates?
It is preferable to use it. Contrary to the prejudices against carbohydrates that are often advertised today, they point to their importance. In fact, carbohydrates should provide more than half of the daily caloric needs, distributed between meals. In fact, our body runs on sugars which are the main source of energy, mainly derived from sugars or carbohydrates and compounds (grains should be pure) and a minimum of simple sugars (fresh fruit).
Can we call it a diet to lose or maintain weight?
In fact, neither this nor that. If we really wanted to include it in the context of the technical definition, I would say maintenance but… of the persistent state of well-being in which there are no foods to be left out but foods to be included in one’s eating habits, that Mediterranean diet in a smart and conscious way.