The Mediterranean diet is a very healthy eating plan, which is primarily based on plant foods, olive oil, and lots of herbs instead of salt. Red meat is a no-no, and fish is a staple. Plus, red wine. Who could say no to that?
The idea behind this diet is limiting, but not eliminating fat consumption. It’s all about making smart choices and choosing monounsaturated over saturated fats. It’s a diet that many doctors recommend as a heart-healthy eatingplan. Research shows that it reduces the risk of heart disease, since it’s low in bad cholesterol.
But where did it all start?
This wasn’t a diet that someone created. It’s a system of eating habits that naturally developed among people living on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Olives, figs, tomatoes, all kinds of fruits and veggies, and fish – those were the ways of the Ancient Greeks.
Are you ready for some history? It will be fun!
The Mediterranean Diet: Where Did It Start?
Tom Hudson, a historian working at a research paper writing service for students, is a lifelong follower of this eating plan. “I’m a historian, so I was naturally interested in the diet’s origins. The Mediterranean basin, the land where these eating habits originated from, is very unique on its own. It’s where different cultures met and ways of thinking emerged. It was the synergy of different cultures that produced these eating habits, which we still stick to.”
If we want to answer the question of the origins of the Mediterranean diet, we won’t be able to do it with definite terms. These eating habits were being developed over a long period of time. During the Middle Ages, the ancient Roman traditions blended with the Greek traditions. The olive oil, bread, wine, cheese, veggies, and fish became the golden standard all across the Mediterranean shore.
Who Made It Popular?
The Mediterranean diet wasn’t invented. Still, it was discovered. At some point in history, someone recognized the differences, set a hypothesis, and decided to prove it. That was Dr. Ancel Keys, who conducted a research together with his colleagues.
His idea came from a simple observation of the people living on the island Crete. The elders, in particular, were very healthy and active.
In 1958, Dr. Ancel Keys launched the Seven Countries Study. In this study, he compared the eating habits of people in Greece, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Japan, and Finland. The term “Keys equation” originated from this study. It points out the effects of various fatty acids on people’s cholesterol levels. Keys realized that the Mediterranean diet had cardio-protective properties, which led to longer life and better health. It was the perfect nutrition that kept people not only healthy, but productive as well.
Mediterranean Diet: The Basics
The best thing about this diet is that it’s really easy to understand. You don’t need to read complicated rules and make detailed cooking plans. Just stick to the basic, natural human nutrition.
This is the foundation of the Mediterranean diet:
- Olive oil– it’s high in monounsaturated fat, which is good for your heart. Canola oil, peanut oil, avocados, and sunflower oil are also good. But olives are the foundation of the diet. You need to avoid saturated fats, such as lard, butter, coconut oil, red meat, palm kernel oil, and dairy products.
- Plenty of fruits and veggies – a salad is mandatory with lunch, and you should have fruits in the morning and as snacks throughout the day. Figs, in particular, are very common in the Mediterranean diet.
- Whole-grain bread– it gives you all the fiber you need. In addition, the diet includes brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat pasta.
- A glass of red wine during meals– one glass per day is perfect. But it’s not a rule. If you don’t normally consume alcohol, you shouldn’t drink every day. There’s a fine line between moderation and excess, and it’s different for everyone.
- Seeds, nuts, and legumes – lentils, beans, and peanuts are great! But don’t go crazy with the nuts. They are beneficial only in moderate quantities, since they are high in calories.
- Fish– it’s included up to two times a week in this diet.
You see? It’s a very simple, but delicious way of eating. The diary products are limited mostly to yogurt and cheese. Meat and poultry are also limited. You don’t have to exclude them for good; you just need to focus on eating the good stuff and avoiding the bad as much as possible.
Bryan Davis is a blogger, academic writer, and healthy food aficionado. He loves combining fruits and veggies in crazy ways… and posting photos of the meals on Instagram. Healthy food changed his life. From sluggish to vibrant – that’s the way food changed his life.