Civilization once reached its peak along the warm northern shores of the “Great Sea,” where we are only now rediscovering the benefits of a Mediterranean lifestyle and approach to food.
The Riviera isn’t known for obesity, illness or frailty. We associate vitality and wellness with the shores of Southern France, Monaco and Italy, as well as the seaside communities of Spain and Greece. There are many good reasons why that’s so, not the least of which is the region’s rich culinary heritage and its positive effects on health.
Credit for reminding the world of how good it is to eat like resident of Nafplion, Napoli or Nice goes to Dr. Ancel Keys. As a physiologist at the School of Public Health of the University of Minnesota in 1970, he published a study regarding the role of diet on cardiovascular diseases in seven countries, which resulted in the Mediterranean diet.
The main characteristics of the diet based on Dr. Keys’ findings are as follows:
- High consumption of vegetables, fruits and legumes
- Intake of non-refined carbohydrates, with amounts suited to physical activity
- Lots of fish in the diet, at least 3~4 times a week
- Consumption of dairy products, including fresh milk, cheese and yogurt
- High intake of virgin olive oil
- Consumption of 3~4 eggs per week
- Consumption of meat and saturated fats in moderate amounts
- Drinking of 1~2 small glasses of red wine a day with main meals
- Drinking of water, with white wine and beer as alternative beverages
- Nuts consumed as snacks
By the same token, the diet advises avoidance of artificial products, especially those were not even in existence 50~60 years ago. They include artificially hydrogenated products, those to which high fructose corn syrup has been added, and anything containing trans-fat.
Among the most attractive aspects of the Mediterranean diet are all of the wonderful food recipes associated with it. Just imagine taking a culinary trip to coastal Italy, Greece, Spain or France every day. Health benefits aside, for its cuisine alone the Mediterranean diet has won a loyal following.
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