The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Southern Italy. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products. The Mediterranean diet includes few fatty acids, while it is rich in carbohydrates and fiber and contains many monounsaturated fatty acids, which are derived mainly from olive oil.
Olive oil is often considered characteristic of the Mediterranean diet. It contains a very high level of monounsaturated fats, most notably oleic acid, which epidemiological studies suggest may be linked to a reduction in coronary heart disease risk. There is also evidence that the antioxidants in olive oil improve cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol reduction, and that it has other anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive effects.
Numerous researches show the health benefits of adopting the Mediterranean diet. For example, a 2011 systematic review found that a Mediterranean diet appeared to be more effective than a low-fat diet in bringing about long-term changes to cardiovascular risk factors, such as lowering cholesterol level and blood pressure. Also, a 10-year study found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet and healthful lifestyle was associated with more than a 50% lowering of early death rates. A 5-year study of 7,447 people reported that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of heart disease in people at high risk by “about 30 percent” when compared with individuals on just a low fat diet.