Located at the intersection of three continents and marked by historical events of immense importance and unparalleled cultural flows, the Mediterranean region has been a crossroads of routes and cultures, ideas, knowledge and people which, over millennia, have driven much of the cultural progress that has shaped Western civilization as we see it today.
These events that occurred over thousands of years ago left their mark, one of the most visible, ingrained and long-lasting of which is most likely the diet. As the French historian Braudel says, "To travel within the Mediterranean is to encounter the Roman world in Lebanon, prehistory in Sardinia, the Greek cities in Sicily, and the Arab presence in Spain."
The foods of the Mediterranean are more than just sustenance. They bring people together.
When we talk about the ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet, of the trilogy—bread, wine and olive oil—, of legumes, vegetables, fruit, fish, cheese, and nuts, there's another essential item that must be included, a key component: sociability.
Foods that bring people together
The Mediterranean Diet is characterized by an abundance of plant-based foods, such as bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts; the use of olive oil as the primary source of fat; and consumption of fish, seafood, poultry, dairy products (yogurt, cheese) and eggs in moderation, of red meat in small quantities, and of wine on a daily basis, generally with food. The Mediterranean Diet has positive health effects because it is balanced, varied, and includes an adequate amount of macronutrients. It is also beneficial because it is low in saturated fat, and high in monounsaturated fat, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidant-rich foods.
10 basic Mediterranean Diet recommendations
• 1- Use olive oil as your main source of added fat.
• 2- Eat mainly plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts.
• 3- Bread and grain products (pasta, rice and especially their whole-grain versions) should be part of your everyday diet, and whole-grain products contain more fiber, minerals and vitamins.
• 4- Foods that have undergone minimal processing, that are fresh and in season are best.
• 5- Consume dairy products on a daily basis, mainly yogurt and cheese.
• 6- Red meat should be consumed in moderation, ideally in stews or other recipes. Processed meat should be consumed in small amounts and as a part of sandwiches and other dishes.
• 7- Consume fish in abundance and eggs in moderation.
• 8- Fresh fruit should be your everyday dessert. Sweets and cakes should be consumed only on occasion.
• 9- Water is the beverage par excellence in the Mediterranean Diet. Wine, like beer, should be consumed in moderation and primarily with food.
• 10- Be physically active every day; exercise is just as important as eating right.
Photos: Fundación Dieta Mediterránea