background image

Meditterranean Diets

postimg

What is this?

The concept “Mediterranean diet” refers to the eating habits of some Mediterranean regions associated with the cultivation of the olive tree. Although the Mediterranean dietary pattern varies according to geographical regions, we can identify some common features in it:

  • High consumption of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, grains (bread, pasta) and nuts, which are consumed fresh or minimally processed in order to retain their nutritional properties.
  • Consumption of olive oil as the main source of dietary fat.
  • Moderate intake of fish and poultry and reduced intake of red meat.
  • Moderate consumption of dairy (yogurt and cheese) and eggs (from 0 to 4 per week).
  • Moderate consumption of wine, especially during meals.

In addition to standard nutritional foods using a varied and balanced Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle that involves moderate physical exercise and a pattern of healthy living.

postimg

What does it do?

The first research that established the beneficial effects produced by the Mediterranean diet was the “study of seven countries”, held in the 1950s. This study examined cardio- vascular risk factors among 13,000 men aged 40-59 years living in seven countries: Finland, USA, Japan, the Netherlands and three Mediterranean countries: Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. The countries of the Mediterranean diet showed death rates from cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction, stroke, etc.) much lower compared to countries that did not follow the Mediterranean dietary pattern and showed a protective effect to this disease.

Subsequently, other studies have investigated the effects of different dietary components of the Mediterranean diet. They have found, in general, a decrease in the risk factors of cardiovascular disease and mortality from this disease. One of the most relevant studies investigated the effect of the Mediterranean diet in patients who had suffered an episode of myocardial infarction. Patients followed a Mediterranean diet for 27 months and the results showed that cardiovascular mortality was 70% lower in the group following the Mediterranean diet compared with those who did not

postimg

How it protects us?

The first research that established the beneficial effects produced by the Mediterranean diet was the “study of seven countries”, held in the 1950s. This study examined cardio- vascular risk factors among 13,000 men aged 40-59 years living in seven countries: Finland, USA, Japan, the Netherlands and three Mediterranean countries: Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. The countries of the Mediterranean diet showed death rates from cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction, stroke, etc.) much lower compared to countries that did not follow the Mediterranean dietary pattern and showed a protective effect to this disease.

Subsequently, other studies have investigated the effects of different dietary components of the Mediterranean diet. They have found, in general, a decrease in the risk factors of cardiovascular disease and mortality from this disease. One of the most relevant studies investigated the effect of the Mediterranean diet in patients who had suffered an episode of myocardial infarction. Patients followed a Mediterranean diet for 27 months and the results showed that cardiovascular mortality was 70% lower in the group following the Mediterranean diet compared with those who did not

postimg

Olive oil and its benefits

Olive oil is the main source of dietary fat in the countries of the Mediterranean basin. We could define the olive oil as the juice from the olives. Approximately one third of the pulp of the olive is olive oil and can easily be removed from ripe olives using pressure systems..

The composition of olive oil varies depending on many factors such as the variety of olives, sun exposure, geographic location, the characteristics of the olive, type of extraction and oil conservation, etc.. In general, two com onents can be distinguished in the olive oil composition:

• FAT Fats generally consist predominantly of triglycerides which in turn are composed of fatty acids called the “building blocks” meaning the “building” of fats. The healthy properties of fats do not depend on the composition of fatty acids. In the case of olive oil, the fat component constitutes 97-99% of the total. Oleic acid (the main representative of monounsaturated fat) is the major fatty acid of olive oils and represents on average 79% of total fatty acids but can range from 57-82%.

• MINORITY COMPOUNDS : constitute only 1-3% of the oil and contain a large nu mber of compounds. This component is partly responsible for the stability of oils and the flavour and sensory characteristics specific to these oils. The minor component of vegetable oils mostly are reduced during the refining process. That is why virgin olive oil, must be obtained simply by washing processes, pressing, centrifugation and filtration, allowing it to retain all of its minor components, many with antioxidant activity.

The beneficial effects of olive oil in health are directly related to its composition.

The consumption of olive oil is beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Excessive consumption of foods rich in saturated fatty acids (or saturated fat) such as butter, lard, dairy products high in fat such as cream, cheeses etc, increase blood cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction, stroke, etc). Several scientific studies have shown that consumption of olive oil (mainly oleic acid), in place of saturated fatty acids, results in a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol which may be accompanied by increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol. Other studies have shown that diets with olive oil can reduce blood pressure and help control blood glucose. Moreover, it has recently been shown that polyphenols (abounding in extra virgin olive oil), possess antioxidant properties which protect blood lipids from oxidative damage. This protective effect of the antioxidants in extra virgin olive oil, plus the reduction of risk factors by substituting saturated fat by oleic acids , help reduce cardiovascular risk and protect the heart and arteries.