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Mediterranean Diet

by Dr. Francisco Contreras



A MEDITERRANEAN DIET is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, olive oil and red wine (or red grapes or grape juice). You can also obtain the same effect through supplementation, as we will discuss later.

There is no doubt that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables throughout your life will drastically reduce your risk of early dead from cancer and heart disease, and it will increase how long you live. Over the past twenty – five years, research has shown that those who eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables actually experience less heart disease, cancer and even cataracts.

The phytonutrients, antioxidants and nutrition found in fresh fruits and vegetables will strengthen your heart and keep it healthy. Phytonutrients, such as natural flavonoids and carotenoids found in fresh fruits and vegetables, red wine, tea and chocolate, and vitamins C, E and beta carotene also have wonderful cancer fighting properties.

The Mediterranean Diet

We hear today about the virtues of the Mediterranean diet, but promoting this way of eating is not a new idea. In 1614, Giacomo Castelvetro, a lone Italian voice in the English wilderness, wrote a book called A Brief Account of the Fruit Herbs and Vegetables of Italy. He was horrified by the huge quantities of meat and sweets consumed by the Anglo- Saxon friends. His book is filled with advice that we living at the beginning of the twenty- first century find startlingly familiar.

The term Mediterranean diet refers to dietary patterns found in olive growing areas of the Mediterranean region where culture integrates the past and the present. Much of what is found there today can be traced to the ancient past.

Different regions in the Mediterranean basin have their own diets, making the Mediterranean somewhat varied. But olive oil holds a central position in all of the dietary customs and habits of the Mediterranean.

The traditional Mediterranean diet has a total of eight components.

  • High monounsaturated (olive oil) and low saturated fat
  • Moderate consumption of red wine almost always during meal
  • High consumption of legumes
  • High consumption of whole grains and cereals, including bread
  • High consumption of fruits
  • High consumption of vegetables
  • Low consumption of meat and meat products
  • Moderate consumption of milk and dairy products