There Mediterranean diet it is a dietary style that guarantees the body all the macronutrients necessary for a long and healthy life. Suitable for all ages, it is particularly recommended for senior since it involves the consumption of low-calorie foods, rich in fiber and polyphenols. Furthermore, observational studies have shown that it is able to guarantee greater protection, compared to other diets, from the onset of cardiovascular diseases and chronic diseases.
What is the Mediterranean diet
When we talk about the Mediterranean diet we are referring to a food model which favors foods common in those countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea basin and, therefore, also Italy.
He was the American biologist and physiologist Ancel Keys, first, to identify its potential after having conducted a comparative study on the eating habits adopted by 7 countries around the world. He deduced that, where we moved away from the “Mediterranean scheme”, the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. A data of absolute relevance since, even today, heart diseases are among the main causes of death in old age.
Over the years, further scientific insights have highlighted the benefits for health deriving from the privileged consumption of foods of plant origin, including in the category also cereal products and olive oil.
Not surprisingly, in 2010, UNESCO declared the Mediterranean diet intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Therefore, a food style to be taken as a model also in terms of environmental sustainability and enhancement of local agri-food excellence.
The food pyramid
The energy requirements of each person, which varies according to age, basal metabolic rate and exercise, is determined by the intake of specific macronutrients (fibers, carbohydrates, proteins, fats). These substances, whose intake must be equally distributed over a day, contribute to the definition of a balanced diet.
To simplify the concept, in the 1950s, a food pyramid was developed which, still today, is a reference for lovers of the Mediterranean diet. At the base of the pyramid are the foods that must be included in the three on a daily basis main meals (breakfast lunch and dinner). These are mostly vegetables and whole grains:
- vegetables (3 servings);
- fruit (2 servings);
- bread, pasta, rice, couscous and whole grains (1-2 servings).
In the middle of the scheme, on the other hand, there are those products that are recommended the daily consumption:
- reduced-fat milk and derivatives (2-3 servings);
- nuts, seeds and olives (1-2 servings);
- raw olive oil (3-4 teaspoons);
- herbs, spices, garlic and onions to use as flavorings and as an alternative to added salt.
Finally, at the top of the pyramid, those foods are shown whose intake should be weekly. It is about:
- fish, crustaceans and molluscs (2-3 servings);
- eggs (2-4 servings);
- legumes (2-3 servings);
- poultry (1-2 servings);
- red meat (less than 2 servings);
- cured meats (1 portion);
- sweets (less than two servings).
The benefits for seniors
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are many, especially for the senior. In this regard, the scientific literature of recent decades has demonstrated the protective effect of this diet on health.
First of all because it prefers products of vegetable origin and, therefore, with a low calorie density, rich in fibers and macronutrients. Fruit, vegetables, cereals and legumes, if consumed in the right quantities, ensure the body a supply of fiber useful to protect against the onset of chronic diseases (diabetes, cholesterolemia, etc.).
There Mediterranean diet it is also good for heart, nervous and immune system health. The fatty acids contained in nuts or polyphenols in olive oil, for example, have a positive effect on mood and brain as well as contributing to the reduction of any inflammatory states in the body.
In addition, moderate consumption of plant foods and whole grains helps maintain body weight over time. To guarantee a healthy and long-lasting life.