Mediterranean diet is considered as a fresh, healthy diet. The staples of this diet are fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains, legumes, yogurt, seafood, small amount of wine and olive oil. The main key components of Mediterranean diet are:
- An abundant food from plant sources such as vegetables, potatoes, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, beans and breads
- Emphasis on minimally processed, locally grown and seasonally fresh foods that consist of the maximum quantity of antioxidants and health-promoting micronutrients
- Olive oil is the principle fat in this diet. Other fats and oils including margarine and butter are avoided.
- This diet includes total fat ranging from less than 25% to 35% of energy, with saturated fat not more than 7-8% of calories.
- Daily consumption of low to moderate quantity of yogurt and cheese
- Weekly consumption of low to moderate amounts of poultry and fish. Fish are more preferred than poultry.
- Fresh fruits as daily desserts. Saturated fat and sweets with a significant amount of sugar should be consumed a few times per week.
- Red meat should be consumed a few times per month.
- Moderate consumption of wine, generally with meals, 1-2 glass per day for men, and 1 glass per day for women is recommended.
Some of the common foods of Mediterranean diet are fruits such as avocados, olives and grapes, rice, pasta, bread, polenta, couscous, potatoes and fresh vegetables such as eggplant, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, pepper, mushrooms, capers and beans. Mediterranean diet also includes nuts and legumes such as walnuts, almonds, white beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts and other beans. Its other common ingredients are olive oil, yogurt, cheese, fish such as sardines, shellfish, poultry including eggs and chicken, meat such as lamb and veal. Some sweets such as ice cream, pastries and cookies are also allowed.
Mediterranean diet has health-boosting qualities. People who follow the Mediterranean diet experience a remarkable decrease in body weight, blood fats, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Eating the Mediterranean style of foods also protects the brain. People following this type of diet are at a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. This particular diet is considered to be reducing a risk of heart disease and cancer. Mediterranean diet includes some healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats (olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats consist of linolenic acid, which is a type of essential omega-3 fatty acids. They lower the levels of triglycerides and improve the health of blood vessels. Fruits and vegetables included in this diet provide vitamins, minerals, fibers, antioxidants and other essential nutrients.