Updated: Mar 8
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet (MD), made famous by the ground-breaking health studies dating back to the 1960s, was a peasant-style diet that was largely vegetarian. It is based upon the traditional eating pattern of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy and Spain.
The MD consists of a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil, low fat dairy products, moderate consumption of fish, and a limited intake of meat (see table mediterranean diet pyramid below).
Another thing to note is, following a MD is not just about what foods are eaten, but also how they are eaten. Cooking at home is encouraged and ideally meals should be shared with friends or family. Meals and snacks should be eaten ‘mindfully’; for example, not in front of the TV, or at your desk while you’re working. You sit, you eat and you slowly chew your food so that the taste and flavour can be appreciated.
Why is it good for you?
The MD is considered one of the healthiest diets on the planet, due to a combination of foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which have been proven to exert a positive role against several metabolic and chronic degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In particular, the quality of the MD diet is characterized by regular consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), high consumption of polyphenols, fibers, and low glycemic carbohydrates, and a greater intake of plant proteins compared to animal proteins. Conversely, the low intake of saturated fat (SFA) in the MD is related to the low consumption of red meat, high-fat milk and butter, despite a relatively high intake of total fat coming predominantly from extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), a wide variety of nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Overall, the low amounts of SFA and the high consumption of PUFAs and micronutrients, including dietary vitamins and minerals, are commonly reported for its high antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory properties, leading to benefits for cardiovascular disease, bone health, gastrointestinal and cognitive functions.
And how much EVOO is consumed when you follow the Mediterranean diet?
The million dollar question!
Many studies I looked at recommended an intake of FOUR TABLESPOONS of good quality EVOO every day.
This can be consumed via cooking, baking, salad dressing, as an alternative to butter, or even added to smoothies!
We offer plenty of recipes containing EVOO over at our instagram and facebook pages, as well as on our website: www.romeyestate.com
Written by Erin Rimmer, student Naturopath & Marketing Director at Romley Estate.
Augimeri, G., Galluccio, A., Caparello, G., Avolio, E., La Russa, D., & De Rose, D. et al. (2021). Potential Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Serum from Healthy Adolescents with Optimal Mediterranean Diet Adherence: Findings from DIMENU Cross-Sectional Study. Antioxidants, 10(8), 1172. doi: 10.3390/antiox10081172
(2021). Retrieved 19 October 2021, from https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0032/946049/cardiac-meddiet.pdf