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The mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has its origins in the countries that face the Mediterranean Sea: Southern Italy, Spain, Greece, Crete, ex-Yugoslavia, Turkey and Tunisia.

Along their unlucky story plain of hunger and misery, these people were able to set a diet based on their land’s products, mainly vegetarian. It was insufficient, but better than the northern one, as the durum wheat proteins are better than the corn ones, used on the north, that caused the pellagra(disease caused by the lack of vit.B group).

With the social and economic development of the last century, the south diet began to enrich itself with animal protein food to reach the rich countries level nowadays.

During this process, it reached a point of quite perfection, having supplied its proteins lack but still conserving its original formula. It was about 1950-1960, and during this period, people from Mediterranean area, mainly from South Italy, had lower death rates of cronical-degenerative and neoplasia metabolic diseases.

The Mediterranean food model is a program in which some typical food (olive oil, pasta, bread and legume, vegetables and fresh fruit, wine) are wisely matched with proper animal products quantities (meat, specially the white ones, fish, dairy products and eggs).

An interesting characteristic of this food model is the use of non-fat condiments (spices, herbs, sugo, lemon, red pepper, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, rosemary, bay, parsley, sage, thyme, ecc) that allows a low sodium diet.

In this diet it is possible to prepare a single dish using these typical ingredients, having a complete, balanced and economical meal.

The Mediterranean diet uses to be presented as a pyramid, where the quantities of each group of food (vegetables and fruit, carbohydrates and so on) are proportional to the size of the pyramid level.

The vegetables are at the lower part of the pyramid, together with the fresh fruit and one should eat 5-6 portions a day. The next level is occupied by the carbohydrates with 4-5 portions a day, then oil and fat with 2-3 portions a day followed by dairy products with 2-3 portions a day. Follows meat, fish, eggs, cold cuts and legume with 1-2 portions a day and at the top the sweets with 1 portion a day.

The portions were established by studies, but one can easily apply the idea with the self good sense. Even if one does not weight 150gr to make a fruit portion, or 10gr to make a portion of oil, just balancing the diet following these proportions will work.

There is a new entry in this pyramid — the physic movement. Aside each level there’s the movement recall.

The people from Mediterranean area did not suffer from the so-called «civilized» diseases because they used to work on the fields, walk to and from everywhere. Surely they did not seat for hours in front of a computer or tv as people do nowadays.

So, to avoid sedentary, it is important to walk 30 minutes a day, for at least 6 days a week. This walking time can be easily found just parking far from the office, making the stairs instead of waiting for the lift and so on.

The Mediterranean diet became known because during studies it was proved that it is healthy and helps keeping the right weight, other than being easy to do. It is important to have a food model that matches with the nowadays life style, as people do not have time enough to follow big changes in their routine.

Another positive factor is that it is easy to industrialize some typical products as pasta, olive oil, bread and others, being then able to spread it to large range of population.

The European countries involved asked UNESCO to recognize the Mediterranean diet as World Heritage and is should happen during 2009.

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