The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the most beneficial for human health – the results of numerous observations have shown that it prolongs life. Such a diet has been observed for a very long time by the inhabitants of the Mediterranean region: citizens of Greece, Cyprus, Croatia and a number of other countries. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods and seafood, while the role of red meat and milk is relegated far into the background. It is believed that such a specific diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, cancer and many other deadly diseases. Recently, scientists have proven the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in a scientific experiment.
What is the mediterranean diet
The term “Mediterranean diet” was coined in the 1950s by nutritionists Margaret and Ansel Case. This is not an artificially invented list of dishes and habits, but simply a diet that has long been observed by the inhabitants of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea.
Historically, the inhabitants of Greece and a dozen neighboring countries most often eat olives, fresh vegetables, herbs, seafood, white bread and red wine. Over hundreds of years of observation, it has been observed that people who adhere to such a diet are less likely to suffer from deadly diseases and, in general, live longer.
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Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Observations show that the Mediterranean diet in conjunction with an active lifestyle can prevent the development of many diseases. For example, the risk of cancer is reduced by about 24%, and the risk of heart attack and stroke is reduced by 50%.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in calcium, making people less likely to suffer from osteoporosis, a disease that reduces bone density and often causes fractures.
The Mediterranean diet also protects against the development of type 2 diabetes. The likelihood of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases is reduced by 30%.
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What’s Included in the Mediterranean Diet
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are based on the fact that everything potentially harmful in it is naturally replaced with useful ones. For example, instead of animal fats, it uses vegetable fats – instead of red meat and butter, it uses fish or poultry, as well as olive oil. In general, there is little meat in this diet, but there is plenty of protein due to the presence of hard cheese, eggs and seafood in the list of products.
The Mediterranean diet is high in complex carbohydrates, most often found in vegetables and fruits, as well as whole grains like brown rice. All food must be fresh, even bread. Vegetables and fruits are consumed five times a day, fresh or stewed. Also, people can drink up to 200 milliliters of red wine per day. Nobody forgets about water – you need about 8 glasses.
Here is a list of foods that make up the Mediterranean diet:
- olives and olive oil;
- tomatoes, eggplant and other fresh vegetables;
- onion and garlic;
- fish and other seafood;
- white bread, rice and pasta;
- red wine.
The Mediterranean diet is 60% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 10% protein. The investigators of this diet add a minimum of salt to the dishes, and instead of sweets they eat fruits. Once a week, fish is consumed, which replenishes the supply of omega-3 fatty acids.
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Mediterranean diet prolongs life
Recently, in the scientific journal Science Alert, an experiment was reported that proved the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the body. There are many useful substances in the products listed above, but the authors of the new scientific work decided to study how vegetable fats affect living organisms at the cellular level.
According to geneticist Ann Brunet, it is generally accepted that fats are harmful. But the results of some studies show that some of them can be of great benefit. For example, the Mediterranean diet is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, especially in olive oil, nuts, and fish.
As part of a scientific experiment, scientists tried to give roundworms of the species Caenorhabditis elegans different food. The first group ate bacteria that are saturated with oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat considered beneficial. The second group received a meal rich in elaidic acid, which is commonly found in margarine and fried foods.
The results of the experiment showed that the worms fed on oleic acid lived 35% longer than the rest. Their long life was predicted by lipid droplets – according to experts, worms with a large number of lipid droplets live longer than worms with fewer of them. It is believed that vegetable fats protect cell membranes from damage, which is the reason for a long life.
In the future, scientists intend to test whether the Mediterranean diet affects people in the same way. Most likely, yes – otherwise how to explain the statistics mentioned at the beginning that such a diet reduces the likelihood of developing dangerous diseases?
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Finally, it is worth noting that not only whole diets, but also individual products can positively affect life expectancy. So, in 2021, it was found that grape seeds can destroy old cells and also increase life expectancy.