Key Ingredients of Mediterranean Diet
There are five key ingredients to the Mediterranean Diet:
Its delicious taste has made it a foodie favorite and it is indispensable to most Italian and Spanish dishes. Olive oil is far better than butter for the heart because it is rich in mono-unsaturates, a type of fatty acid thought to help protect against heart disease by reducing high density lipoprotein concentrations in the blood. Olive oil contains the same amount of calories as other oils, so excess could lead to weight gain.
Its distinctive flavor adds that special something to the most basic sauce, and a Latin flavor to the breath. But the hidden benefits are great. Regular consumption protects against heart disease by decreasing the level of cholesterol in the blood and lowering blood pressure. Cooking garlic removes most of the smell.
Tuna, swordfish and salmon are generally holiday trees, but if they replaced red meat in our daily diet we would be slimmer and healthier. The health benefits are well-documented. Fish oil contains essential fatty acids which reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of 'bad' cholesterol.
Fruit and Vegetables
Mediterranean vegetables may be common to us, but are prepared and served imaginatively to bring out the flavors and textures. The World Health Organization recommends we eat 400g of fruit and vegetables a day – about five pieces. Eating this amount is both filling and a source of vital nutrients, especially antioxidant vitamins which may protect against some cancers.
Few diets allow the luxury of a drink; our diet encourages it. The benefits speak for themselves. The French drink ten times more than their American counterparts, and there are no prizes for guessing which nation is fatter and more prone to heart disease. Red wine contains flavonoids which attack heart disease from two fronts, as antioxidants and platelet inhibitors. Wine contains high levels of natural aspirin, and in France is still sometimes prescribed as a diuretic and a source of minerals. It is also thought to play a role in killing bacteria. But most importantly, a glass of red wine is delicious, relaxing and highly continental.