Pyramid in the early 1990’s.
The Mediterranean diet has been around for hundreds of years and was originally enjoyed by people from the South Mediterranean region, particularly Crete and Southern Italy. More of an eating style than a diet, it become popular in the early 1990’s. The Mediterranean diet is based on whole foods, which include vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains, olive oil, and red wine.
During the early 1960’s, researchers began to notice that those who lived in the region has lower incidences of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. During that time, people who lived in the Mediterranean region had the longest life expectancy on the globe.
Most of the food from the region comes for the ocean with the majority of fats coming from the abundant olives that are grown during the mild winters and hot summers. Because most people worked the fields, there was a lower rate of obesity. Those who lived in the region ate a diet that was rich in vegetables like eggplants and potatoes. Another important part of the diet was, and still is, red wine.
What Foods to Include
The Mediterranean diet recommends that you eat seven to ten servings of vegetables and fruit every day. You should also include nuts, whole grains, and legumes in your food intake. 60% of the calories that are consumed on a daily basis with the Mediterranean diet come from foods that are plant based. Fish and poultry should be eaten once a week, while other meats should only be enjoyed twice a month.
According to the Mediterranean diet it is not how much fat you consume, but what type of fat you eat. There are no hydrogenated oils or saturated fats in the diet as these contain dangerous Trans fats, which have been proven to contribute to heart disease. Olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean Diet, but you are also encouraged to get your fat from seeds, fatty fish like trout, salmon, mackerel and herring and nuts.
Wine is a big part of the Mediterranean diet. Men are allowed to consume 10 ounces of red wine each day, while women are encouraged to drink five ounces in the same time period.
In a study conducted in 2003, 22,000 participants started the Mediterranean Diet and noticed an overall reduction of deaths. Scientists conducting the study believe that the lack of saturated fats reduced coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. Because of the high amounts of fresh produce that were eaten, there was an abundance of antioxidants, which are known to fight cancer.