Mediterranean Diet and olive oil
For centuries, the nutritional, cosmetic and medicinal benefits of olive oil have been recognised by the people of the Mediterranean.
Since the 1960s many experts on nutrition have studied the health benefits of the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ (also known as the ‘Cretan Diet’), of which olive oil is one of the prime components. According to several studies carried out in Italy, Greece and Spain (the main olive oil producing and consuming countries), the incidence of diseases is lower in these countries than in Northern European countries. This research has shown that modes of nutrition are responsible for the longevity of the inhabitants of Mediterranean countries, especially those where olive oil consumption is high. Nowadays most nutritional experts and doctors suggest that the health benefits of consumption of olive oil will be higher if it is combined with following the Mediterranean Diet.
The principal aspects of this diet include high olive oil consumption, high consumption of vegetables, high consumption of unrefined cereals, high consumption of fruits, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate to high consumption of fish, low consumption of meat and meat products, and moderate wine consumption.
There is no doubt that the consumption of olive oil has health benefits when combined with the following of the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ . There is no doubt too that ‘Mediterranean Diet’ is one of the healthiest diets. But, unfortunately, recent sociological changes have influenced the nutritional habits of Mediterranean people. Nowadays fewer people follow the traditional Mediterranean diet and people are less likely to spend time in the kitchen preparing healthy foods. Nevertheless, there is at the same time an opportunity for restaurants and the catering industry to adapt their cooking to the traditional Mediterranean diet as they now know that their traditional nutrition is very healthy.
This diet is not really a diet to lose weight but rather a way to eat more healthily. The diet of Crete or the Mediterranean diet is useful as a permanent diet. In the case of a short-term change in dietary habits, positive effects will not occur.