If I say to you: “olive oil, cardiovascular health, fish, vegetables, legumes, good fat” you should think of the famous Mediterranean diet (Cretan diet). Considered one of the best diets to stay healthy and increase one’s life expectancy, it has the particularity of not banning specific foods.
The Mediterranean diet in brief
The Mediterranean diet is based on the dietary habits of those living near the Mediterranean Sea. It focuses on eating foods that are as natural as possible, while “limiting” the so-called unhealthy fats and red meat.
I insist the word “limiting” because we find on the Internet , sites that speak of prohibition of this or that family of food. So I will repeat it so that it is clear, there is no prohibition with the Mediterranean diet, it speaks rather of limitation or moderation of certain families of food that I will detail further.
To put it simply, if you eat well all week, this diet does not prevent you from eating a steak with fries on Saturday night.
There are many countries around the Mediterranean Sea and they do not eat all the same things. Here is a summary of what is recommended to eat to follow a typical Mediterranean diet.
- Eats vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole cereals, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra-virgin olive oil Virgin.
- Consume poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurts in moderation.
- Eats red meat occasionally.
- Avoid sugary drinks, added sugars, processed meats, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.
- Drink water. Coffee and tea are also suitable.
The Mediterranean diet (Cretan diet) is therefore rich in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids with a near omnipresence of olive oil in meals and it is low in saturated fatty acids. It is rich in complex carbohydrates provided by legumes, and in fiber with vegetables and fruits.
The high content of fresh fruits and vegetables , cereals and olive oil guarantees high consumption of beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, polyphenols, and various important minerals. These key elements are considered to have a beneficial effect on health and in particular against cardiovascular diseases.
Many studies demonstrate the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet. A meta-analysis published in 2011 in the Journal Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet for more than six months enjoyed significant weight loss .
In terms of health, studies have proven for many years that the Mediterranean diet can also help reduce the risk of heart attacks , strokes and type 2 diabetes . More recently, a study published in March 2016 showed that this diet can also reduce the risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women who often suffer from osteoporosis.
The researchers looked at data from 90,000 women and found that the risk of hip fracture in women who had a Mediterranean diet was reduced. The reduction was small, but the result is important because it shows that having a healthy diet with relatively little dairy was not associated with a higher risk of hip fractures.
Little parenthesis if you have not read our article on the benefits of bodybuilding. Training with loads can increase bone density, and women who do weight training also have a lower risk of fracture after menopause. A woman who follows a Mediterranean diet and who does more bodybuilding will therefore have excellent bone capacity which will reduce the risk of fractures in case of a fall.
In 2018, a team of American researchers also reported finding higher bone mass and muscle mass in postmenopausal women who followed a Mediterranean diet (Cretan diet), compared to those who did not follow it .
There is no real risk of following a Mediterranean diet, as it consists of eating healthy foods as fresh as possible.
There is only one thing to report and do not forget. The Mediterranean diet is part of a Mediterranean way of life. Outdoors, sports, sun, strong social ties are also part of the Mediterranean longevity. Without this lifestyle, without regular physical activity, this healthy diet would be meaningless. I quote cardiologist Aseem Malhotra, a specialist on the question of Mediterranean longevity:
“We must redefine the Mediterranean diet (Cretan diet). The truth is, it’s a whole way of life. It’s food, exercise, the outdoors, social interaction. ”
If you want to know more, you can read this article from the New York Times .