The Mediterranean diet, which is among the healthy eating trends, is generally accepted as a dietary model recommended to reduce the risk of heart disease, depression and dementia, and to protect and improve general health. According to the information compiled by the Sabri Ülker Foundation, the Mediterranean diet strongly supports healthy eating as a predominantly plant-based nutrition plan. What does the Mediterranean diet contain? Features that distinguish the Mediterranean diet from other diets
It is known that the Mediterranean diet was first developed in 1993 by the Harvard School of Public Health and the European Office of the World Health Organization as a guide to help people familiarize themselves with the region's most common foods. The guideline, called the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, appears to recommend more as a healthy eating pattern with an eating pattern than a strictly regulated diet plan. The pyramid is also defined as a dietary pattern of certain foods based on the dietary habits of Crete, Greece and Southern Italy in the mid-20th century. Although these countries had limited access to health services in those years, it was observed that there was a low rate of chronic diseases and the average adult life was above the expectation, and this result was proven to be closely related to nutritional habits. Consisting mainly of fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of dairy products, the pyramid also highlights daily exercise and the beneficial social aspects of eating together. It is also observed that our people living on the Aegean coasts of our country have been adapting to this healthy eating model for many years.
What does the Mediterranean diet contain?
The Mediterranean diet is defined as a predominantly plant-based eating plan that includes daily consumption of whole grains, olives, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, herbs and spices, as well as small amounts of fish. Consumption of other food sources such as animal protein is recommended in smaller amounts, while the preferred animal protein includes fish and seafood. Although the proportion of foods to be eaten is recommended in the Mediterranean Diet Model, portion sizes or specific amounts are not specified. Deciding on the recommended portions to be consumed at each meal involves an individual-specific planning.
Features that distinguish the Mediterranean diet from other diets
It emphasizes healthy fats. It is recommended to prioritize olive oil in the diet over other oils and fats (butter, margarine). Highlights are avocados, nuts, fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, and other foods that contain healthy fats. Among these, walnuts, dark green leafy vegetables, fish and seafood are especially good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Consumption of fish at least 2 times a week and other animal proteins such as poultry, eggs and dairy products (cheese or yoghurt) daily or several times a week is recommended as an animal protein source. Red meat, on the other hand, is limited to a few times a month in the Mediterranean diet.
It is recommended that water be the main drink on a daily basis.
It is necessary to support daily physical activity with enjoyable activities.
What does the available data say?
The Mediterranean diet appears to be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and overall death. In a study conducted with approximately 26.000 female participants; It has been determined that individuals who follow the Mediterranean diet and similar dietary approaches have a 12% less risk of cardiovascular disease for 25 years. In the study, the most important mechanism underlying these positive effects is thought to be the decrease in the severity of inflammation and the positive changes in blood sugar and body mass index.
Studies show that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts and without any fat or energy restrictions can reduce the death rate from stroke by 30%. While most of the fat in the Mediterranean diet comes from healthy fats such as oily fish, olives, olive oil and nuts, only about 40% of the total daily energy comes from fat. This rate is above the recommendation of the World Health Organization that the contribution of dietary fats to dietary energy should be around 30% on average.
Mediterranean diet can reduce cellular stress!
The effects of diet on aging and cognitive function have become the focus of research in recent years. Cell damage through stress and inflammation (inflammation), which can lead to age-related diseases, is related to a specific part of DNA called the telomere. These structures naturally shorten with age, and their current length is an estimate of life expectancy and risk of developing age-related diseases. Long telomeres are considered protective against chronic diseases and the risk of premature death, while short telomeres increase these risks.
The Mediterranean diet, which includes foods containing antioxidant elements such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, contributes to the fight against cell stress with its rich antioxidant content and helps to maintain telomere length.
As a result; In light of current research, it supports the use of the Mediterranean diet as a healthy eating model for cardiovascular disease prevention, lifespan prolongation and healthy aging. When applied with energy restriction, it also contributes to healthy weight loss. However, it is important to consult a dietitian so that the Mediterranean diet and all other dietary approaches can be individually planned for weight loss and nutrition in diseases.