From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published June 1, 2012 09:12 AM

To Feel Good, Mediterranean Diet is the Way to Go

Southern Europe has been getting a lot of negative attention lately due to the financial crisis in the Eurozone. At this time, it is important to remember much of the good which comes out of this region. This is especially true of the Mediterranean cuisine. It is not only delicious but also linked with a lower chance of illness and greater well-being. A new study has just been released by researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Navarra which shows how the Mediterranean diet is linked to both physical and mental health.

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Mediterranean cuisine can be characterized as containing ample fruit, vegetables, pulses, fish, olive oil, and nuts. Studies have shown that people who eat it have a lesser risk of chronic illness and a lower mortality rate. The new study analyzed how this diet also influences quality of life by surveying over 11,000 university students over four years.

"The progressive aging of the population in developed countries makes it even more interesting to find out those factors that can increase quality of life and the health of the population," as explained to SINC by Patricia Henríquez Sánchez, researcher at the centre in the Canary Islands and lead author of the study.

Respondents were asked at the beginning of the study to describe their dietary intake. After four years, they were asked about their self-perceived quality of life. Their diet was monitored over this period to see if the Mediterranean diet was followed.

In this regard, vegetables, pulses, fruit, nuts, cereals, and fish were given positive values. Meat, dairy products, and alcohol were given negative values. The survey results showed a strong link with the Mediterranean diet and mental and physical quality of life.

The researchers stress the importance of the Mediterranean Food Pyramid. They say that the main meals of the day show always include some kind of cereals, fruit and vegetable, and dairy product. Olive oil should be the main source of fat. 1.5-2 liters of water is recommended, as well as moderate consumption of wine and other fermented beverages.

The top of the pyramid are sugar, sweets, cakes, pastries, and sugary beverages. These should be consumed occasionally and in small amounts.

This study has been published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Mediterranean Food image via Shutterstock

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