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Nutrition

Physical Activity

Physical Activity

Physical activity is a fundamental aspect of the Mediterranean Diet, so much so that it is included at the base of the new food pyramid proposed by INRAN (National Institute for the Research of Food and Nutrition).

A balanced diet must be backed up with physical activity such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, or going up and down stairs, for at least 30 minutes per day and for at least five days a week. In addition to helping maintain body weight, physical activity helps prevent many illnesses caused by a non-active lifestyle (obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis).

Cereals

Cereals

A privileged place in the Mediterranean Diet is occupied by cereals, which together with vegetables and fruit occupy the base of the food pyramid. To the group of cereals belong rice, corn, barley, spelled and wheat. The latter, in particular, is common to all the populations of the Mediterranean, since it constitutes the raw material of foods such as pasta, bread, cous-cous and burghul. Cereals are mostly a source of complex carbohydrates and the ideal would be to consume whole ones, as the refining process impoverishes them ...

Sustainable Diet

Sustainable Diet

The Mediterranean Diet, in addition to being healthy for people, is also healthy for the environment. The food model adopted by the peoples of the Mediterranean basin is in fact recognized as a sustainable model since, being mainly based on vegetables and cereals, it has a low environmental impact. The Mediterranean Diet, preferring mostly fresh local and seasonal products prepared according to traditional recipes, reduces greenhouse crops and the related environmental impacts; respects biodiversity through the rotation of ...

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the principal foods that make up the Mediterranean diet, characterized mainly by the consumption of plant-based foods.

According to the food pyramid, it is advisable to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, ranging from breakfast to the snacks between meals. The consumption of fruit and vegetables guarantees a correct intake of vitamins and minerals, while reducing one’s calorie count. Furthermore, fruit and vegetables are a great source of water, while the fiber intake has a filling effect. It is important to choose fruit and vegetables that are in season, to limit the risk of consuming harmful substances used in agriculture, as well as contributing to the preservation of biodiversity.

Dried Fruit

Dried Fruit

In addition to the Mediterranean diet being based on large quantities of dried fruit, it is advised to consume dried fruit daily.

Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, and pine nuts have little water content, moderate protein content, little sugar and a substantial quantity of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly beneficial as a source of omega-3 and omega-6. Dried fruit has a high calorific value and is therefore recommended in regular but small quantities.

Dairy Products

Dairy Products

Milk and products that originate from milk are the most important animal based products in the Mediterranean diet, and according to the food pyramid, should be consumed on a daily basis.

Milk, and consequently dairy products are in fact an excellent source of protein, minerals and vitamins.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil is the principal source of fats in the Mediterranean diet, in addition to adding flavour to dishes; it is also packed with great health benefits.

The variation, “extra virgin” olive oil, presents an optimal relationship between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, consisting mainly of a fat particle that consists of oleic acid, its easily digested, moderates gastric acid, stimulates the secretion of the pancreas and favors the absorption of calcium and bone development. Rich in polyphenols, olive oil is an antioxidant and can prevent cardiovascular diseases, some tumors and arteriosclerosis.

Fish

Fish

Fish has always been an important source of sustenance and nourishment amongst the communities of the Mare Nostrum. Due to its health benefits, fish is preferred over meat in the Mediterranean diet.

Fish, in particular fatty fish, is in fact an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of chronic diseases hypertension, atherosclerosis and thrombosis.

Food Pyramid

Food Pyramid

The food pyramid is a diagram with which dieticians, nutritionists and doctors have graphically represented the Mediterranean diet.

Foods that should be consumed with every meal are found at the base of the pyramid, as they guarantee a balanced diet. These include cereals, fruit and vegetables, accompanied by an important consumption of water and olive oil as a dressing. Moving up the pyramid we find food groups that should be consumed daily, in moderation, such as yogurt and cheeses, spices, aromatic herbs, garlic and onion, together with a glass of wine. The next step in the food pyramid includes food groups that should be consumed on a weekly basis, white and red meat, fish, eggs and vegetables. Finally, the top of the food pyramid includes desserts that should be kept for special occasions and eaten in small quantities.

Recipes

Recipes

Recipes can be considered as a cultural element that unites agricultural traditions and culinary art.

After centuries of being exclusively transmitted orally from one generation to the next, these recipes, recorded in written format only in the last number of decades, are beyond a simple combination of ingredients. Thanks to these recipes, raw materials are transformed into complex dishes. The Mediterranean diet makes this transformation possible, with its social and cultural heritage of skills, gestures and traditions.

Mediterranean Triad

Mediterranean Triad

Olive trees, wheat and grapevines.

These are the “Mediterranean trio”, the combination of the three most widespread cultivations in southern Europe for centuries (due to the mainly hilly and mountainous land and the dry warm climate, which provides the right elements for cultivating plants that need little water), in which fruits make up the foundations of the foods of historic communities of the Mare Nostrum. Oil, wheat and wine were already known of in the Fertile Crescent, and then progressively spread in the entire Mediterranean basin, becoming the basis of the food habits of Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, and continuing to hold a fundamental role in the Mediterranean diet even today.

Wine

Wine

Wine is stupendously appropriate for mankind provided that, in health as in illness, it is distributed accordingly and in the right quantity”.

As early as the 4TH century B.C., Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed wine for curing wounds, as a nutritional beverage, to reduce fever, as a laxative and as a diuretic. Wine is considered a beverage par excellence amongst the people of the Mediterranean basin, it has also been recognized by science for its health benefits. Antioxidant substances such as resveratrol and quercetin protect proteins, fats and nucleic acid from free radicals. Furthermore, a glass of red wine can contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, to improve the lipid framework, hemostatic balance, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol level.

mipaaf createsMeddiet - The portal of the Mediterranean Diet "is a project of the University of Rome Unitelma Sapienza, made with cAttribute of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies - Ministerial Decree no. 93824 of 30 December 2014 and updated in 2018 in collaboration with CREA - Research Center for Food and Nutrition.

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