Preventing cardiovascular disease: the Mediterranean diet

fish with onions and asparagus

The Mediterranean diet from childhood to prevent cardiovascular disease

A healthy lifestyle should be imparted to children from their parents and then reinforced in the classroom. Children should be encouraged to try new flavors while maintaining the basic principles of a healthy and balanced diet to help with growth and development and prevent both cardiovascular disease and childhood obesity, a growing phenomenon in many economically developed countries. The vast variety of products available on the market has led to an increase in consumption of products with high fat and sugar content and a decrease in consumption of less appealing “healthy” foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and cereal grains.

Research data confirms that the concept of Mediterranean diet is rooted very deeply in the countries that face the northern shores of the Mediterranean sea, and the importance of correct information on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including in the media, which has an enormous influence on young people.

Numerous studies have shown that the model of the Mediterranean diet is suitable for all ages and able to decrease the risk of many illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and digestive issues, as well as several types of tumor.

Like the oriental diet, the Mediterranean diet is prevalently based on consumption of plant-based foods (cereals, fruit, vegetables), and a limited amount of animal-based foods, mostly fish. The beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet do not depend on the single foods or their components, but on the set of dietary habits, the combination of foods and the variety of the diet. In this model the daily caloric intake comes between 55-60% from carbohydrates, between 25-30% from fats and between 10-15% from protein.

Olive oil, bread, pasta, legumes, fruit and vegetables are all leading actors in the Mediterranean tradition. These foods, combined and integrated with smaller quantities of animal products such as milk, cheese, eggs, fish and meat, constitute a balanced, varied and pleasant diet, within which there are no prohibited foods, but each item should be consumed according to appropriate quantities and frequencies.

This model is often represented as a pyramid, where the most important foods, those to be consumed daily, are placed at the bottom (fruit and vegetables are first, followed by pasta, rice, cereals and potatoes. Slightly above are milk, yogurt and vegetable oils. Above these are foods that should be consumed slightly less frequently, such as cheese, fish, eggs, legumes and meat, which should generally be consumed on a weekly basis. Above that are foods that should be consumed rarely, such as desserts and animal fats.

At the basis of this model is daily physical activity and drinking plenty of water, for a healthy lifestyle and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.


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