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Mediterranean diet

The
Mediterranean Diet Diet
Mediterranean diet is a nutritional model inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of the countries of the Mediterranean basin, particularly Southern Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Common to the diets of these regions are a high consumption of fruit and vegetables, bread and other cereals, olive oil and fish; making them low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat and fiber. A main factor in the appeal of the Mediterranean Diet is its rich, full flavored foods. Margarine and other unhealthy hydrogenated oils are considered bland and lacking the flavor olive oil can impart to foods. Red wine is also consumed regularly but in moderate quantities.

Although it was first publicized in 1945 by the American doctor Ancel Keys stationed in Salerno, Italy, the Mediterranean diet failed to gain common currency until the 1990s. It is based on what from the point of view of mainstream nutrition is considered a paradox: that although the people living in Mediterranean countries tend to consume relatively high amounts of fat, they have far lower rates of cardiovascular disease than in countries like the United States, where similar levels of fat consumption are found.

One of the main explanations is thought to be the large amount of olive oil used in the Mediterranean diet. Unlike the high amount of animal fats typical to the American diet, olive oil lowers cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, the consumption of red wine is considered a possible factor, as it contains flavonoids with powerful antioxidant properties (see the French paradox).

There is also the far simpler explanation that inhabitants of the Mediterranean, and Europe in general, tend to lack the heavy reliance on the automobile as the basic means of transportation, and are far more likely to walk relatively short distances then Americans.

Dietary factors may be only part of the reason for the health benefits enjoyed by these cultures. Genetics, lifestyle, and environment may also be involved.

Some questions have been raised as to if the diet provides adequate amounts of all nutrients, particularly calcium and iron. Although goats cheese is used in the Mediterranean, which is a good source of calcium, and so are green vegetables, which are a good source of iron.



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