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This is the most widely used oil in Mediterranean cuisine. It is rich in Vitamin E, beta-carotenes and a type of vegetable fat (monounsaturated) that helps prevent cardiovascular diseases. It represents a treasure in the Mediterranean Diet and has remained through centuries among regional gastronomical traditions, conferring dishes unique tastes and aromas.
Fruits and vegetables are a main source of vitamins, minerals and fibre in our diets and they also provide us with a large amount of water. It is very important to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Thanks to an elevated content of antioxidants and fibre, they can contribute to prevent various cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers, among others.
Daily consumption of pasta, rice and grain products in general is essential due to their high carbohydrate content. They provide us with an important source of energy needed for our daily activities. We should keep in mind that whole grain products provide us with more dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
It is important to take advantage of in-season products since they are at their best at that time; in terms of both nutrients, aroma and flavour.
Dairy products are an excellent source of protein, minerals (calcium, phosphorus, etc.) and vitamins. Fermented dairy products (e.g. yogurt) are associated with a series of health benefits since they contain live microorganisms capable of improving the balance of our intestinal microflora.
Processed meat should be consumed in small amounts and as a part of sandwiches and other dishes. Meat contains proteins, iron and animal fat in variable quantities. An excessive intake of animal fat is not healthy. Therefore, small amounts of meat are recommended, lean meat whenever possible and as a part of a dish with a cereal and vegetable base.
It is recommended that fatty (dark meat) fish be consumed at least once or twice a week since its fat - even though of animal origin- has properties similar to those of vegetable origin, which are known to protect against heart disease. Eggs are rich in high quality protein, fat, vitamins and minerals; this makes them a very nutritionally 'complete' food item. Eating eggs three or four times a week is a good alternative to fish and meat.
Fresh fruit should be your usual dessert, rather than sweets and pastries. Fruits are very nutritious and bring colour and flavour to our diet as well as being a healthy snack alternative.
Wine should be taken in moderations and with meals. Water is fundamental in our diet. Wine is a traditional part of the Mediterranean Diet that can provide health benefits but it must be taken in moderation and as a part of a balanced diet.
Keeping physically fit and doing physical activity adapted to our needs every day is key in keeping healthy.