The Mediterranean Diet is characterised in various ways: by an abundance of vegetable foods such as breads, pastas, vegetables, salads, legumes, fruits and nuts; by olive oil as the main source of fat; by the moderate consumption of fish, poultry, milk products and eggs; by the consumption of small quantities of red meats; and by the low or moderate consumption of wine, normally consumed with meals. This diet is low in saturated fatty acids, rich in carbohydrates and fibre, and it has a high content of mono-unsaturated fatty acids that are derived mainly from olive oil.
With ingredients such as these, these recommendations can become a tasty and appetising diet.
Nowadays, the nutritional mistake characterised by excess calories (either due to the greater availability of foods or due to less physical activity) is becoming ever-more extensive, and there is frequent disequilibrium among nutrients: there has been an increase in the consumption of lipids, thereby increasing saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in detriment to mono-unsaturated fatty acids; a decrease in the consumption of carbohydrates; an increase in the consumption of foods with a greater content of proteins with a high biological value and, at the same time, invisible saturated fats; fresh vegetable foods are canned and preserved using treatments that do not always respect their biological value; and the transformation of foods subsequently reduces their vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content, as well as the gross vegetable fibre content.
All of these modifications caused by technological processes, and due to changes in tastes and customs, cannot but negatively affect the state of health of people and cause an increase in metabolic and degenerative diseases. It therefore becomes necessary and recommendable to redirect people towards a moderate and balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean Diet.
One of the most representative products of the Mediterranean Diet, as we have already mentioned, is olive oil. Numerous studies have demonstrated that it exercises an undoubtedly protective effect on the metabolism, the arteries, the stomach, the liver and the bile ducts; it favours a child's growth; and it prolongs the life expectancy of the elderly.
Its balanced composition - consisting mainly of mono-unsaturated oleic acid but including the right quantity of linoleic and alinoleic acids, essential polyunstaturates and including the presence of a rich supply of anti-oxidants - justifies nutritional experts' preference for olive oil, which is also shared by gourmets due to its special organoleptic qualities, which is so pleasing to the palate.