The Mediterranean cuisine is varied and healthy: After all, the Spaniards are considered to be the healthiest people in Europe, and Greeks and Italians also have a relatively high life expectancy.
A healthy diet is particularly important in times of the corona pandemic. People with undernourishment or malnutrition have an increased risk of infection with a poorer prognosis. You should change your diet to a Mediterranean diet – this strengthens the immune system and can also increase cognitive performance. The changeover is easy: the diet in southern Europe mainly consists of vegetables, salad, fresh fruit, and nuts, plus little meat, lots of fish and seafood, healthy spices, and cold-pressed olive oil. Not only the individual foods are important, but also the principle: Mediterranean food is fresh, regional, and seasonal.
Mediterranean diet vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini
Tomatoes are an important part of Spanish cuisine. They are found, for example, in the traditional cold tomato soup gazpacho from Andalusia and contain a lot of lycopene. The secondary plant substance protects against the hardening of the arteries and reduces the risk of a stroke.
Paprika also belongs in a gazpacho. In addition to vitamins, it primarily provides magnesium and zinc. Magnesium is important for muscles. Zinc is needed for wound healing, among other things.
The courgettes, which are particularly popular in Italian cuisine, are considered the ideal slimming products: squash plants provide a lot of volume, but contain hardly any calories, almost no fat, and very few carbohydrates. Incidentally, the old Italian varieties, which are round or yellow and have a much more intense taste, are better than the green courgettes that are usually used.
Cheese provides protein and calcium
The Mediterranean cuisine offers a rich selection of cheeses. Sheep’s cheese in particular, such as Greek feta and Spanish manchego or goat’s cheese, are healthy suppliers of protein and calcium – important for muscles and bones.
Meat from free-range animals
Meat has a much smaller share in the Mediterranean diet than in Germany, for example. If you cannot do without meat, you should eat it twice a week at most and prefer white to red meat if possible. In the Mediterranean countries, it often does not come from fattening facilities, as it does here, but from free-ranging animals. Their meat is naturally rich in vitamin B12, which they absorb when digging in the ground or grazing. Venison is best, as wild animals also accumulate omega-3 fatty acids in muscle meat and are not as fat as fattened animals.
Olives and fresh herbs, little salt
An important ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine is olive oil, which consists of 75 percent monounsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack and allows blood sugar levels to rise slowly. Thus, olives and their oil are active against diabetes, as are nuts. It is seasoned with garlic, chives, thyme, rosemary, and other fresh herbs – this saves salt.
Local products are also suitable
There are also local products in this country that are just as good as products from the Mediterranean region. For example, trout and salmon also provide important omega-3 fatty acids. Experts also recommend using more legumes instead of fish and meat, three servings of vegetables a day, two servings of fruit, and, in addition to olive oil, local rapeseed oil for frying.
A Mediterranean diet may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s
Studies show that switching to a Mediterranean diet not only keeps the body fit but also the mind in old age. Accordingly, the Mediterranean diet can even help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and slow down the progression of dementia. Dementia researchers from the University of Saarland have discovered high levels of stigmasterol in aubergines, zucchini, and avocados and found that this plant sterol protects the brain. Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils also contain plant sterols. It’s never too late to switch to a Mediterranean diet – but you have to do it consistently. Eating just once a week afterward won’t help, experts say.
Studies prove effectiveness
The fact that the Mediterranean diet works have now been clearly proven. The so-called Predimed study, which was recently reassessed, clearly shows that a Mediterranean diet can protect the heart. But more recent studies such as the Potsdam Epic study and the Cordioprev study show that switching to a Mediterranean diet helps with arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.