Mediterranean diet: rich in colors and natural foods
For years, nutritionists have valued the "Mediterranean diet" because it is based on the intake of natural, healthy and poorly processed foods.
From the most recent acquisitions in the field of human nutrition, it has been confirmed that fruits and vegetables contain not only essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals and a small part of essential fatty acids), but also protective factors linked to their color.
Why are fruits and vegetables good for health?
We all know that eating a lot of fruit and vegetables is good for your health, but we asked ourselves why?
The health properties are due to the content of water, vitamins, mineral salts, sugars, fibers and compounds called phytoalexins (In English phytochemicals). These substances give vegetables and fruit their color and are important both for the plants themselves and for the human organism:
- For plants, thanks to the protective action against microorganisms and parasites;
- For the human organism thanks to the protective action towards the apparatuses and systems.
Each fruit and vegetable has a certain characteristic composition and for this reason it is recommended to eat as many varieties as possible.
In this way the body can absorb the right mix of essential substances to satisfy all its needs.
Importance of colors in the diet of fruit and vegetables
We therefore need to eat different types of fruit and vegetables every day, in order to ingest the correct amount of fiber and phytochemicals.
Here then is where the colors take over in the diet!
In fact, recent studies have shown that it is good to consume five fruit and vegetables with different colors every day: white, green, red, yellow / orange, purple / blue.
One serving equals:
- A side dish of raw or cooked vegetables (50-250 g);
- A medium-sized fruit (100-200 g) to be used as a snack, at the end of a meal or at breakfast;
- A fruit and / or vegetable juice (150-250 ml) to be consumed as a drink.
By managing to make these habits their own and maintaining an active (non-sedentary) lifestyle, it has been shown that the risk of cancer is reduced by 1/3 and a certain general physical well-being is maintained.
Following these tips is important in all stages of life, so it is recommended from the earliest years of age.
Let's now see, component by component, the beneficial properties of fruit and vegetables.
Properties of the Color Diet
What are the beneficial nutritional characteristics of the color diet?
The chemical properties of the color diet, which outline a beneficial and almost therapeutic effect, are:
- Richness of phytochemicals or phytoalexins;
- Rich in vitamins;
- Rich in beneficial minerals and low sodium intake;
- Wealth of fibers;
- Wealth of water.
Let's analyze them one at a time.
Wealth of Phytochemicals
Importance of phytochemicals or phytoalexins
Phytochemicals or phytoalexins give fruit and vegetables their characteristic color.
Polyphenols, anthocyanins, carotenoids and chlorophylls are the main phytochemicals of fruit and vegetables, and have the function of protecting the body by reducing the risk of:
- Oxidative stress;
- Total and LDL hypercholesterolemia;
- Primary arterial hypertension;
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus;
- Cardio- and cerebrovascular events.
Vitamins of fruit and vegetables: what are they and what are they for?
Vitamins are small but complex molecules, important for all cellular and consequently bodily functions.
For example, vitamin A ensures the proper functioning of sight, vitamin C supports the immune defenses and is the basis for the production of collagen; vitamin D ensures the formation of bone tissue; certain vitamins of the B complex act as enzymes and coenzymes for energy metabolisms (they help to process carbohydrates, proteins, fats) and are necessary for cell differentiation; vitamin E protects essential fats from free radials; Vitamin K has the so-called anti-haemorrhagic function etc.
Certain vitamins have remarkable antioxidant power and, in addition to slowing down aging, protect (such as phytoalexins) from the onset of tumors and metabolic pathologies.
Fruits and vegetables are mainly rich in:
- Antioxidant vitamins:
- Carotenoids (pro vitamins A such as beta carotene and lycopene): contained mainly in orange fruit and vegetables (peppers, chilli, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, cherries, melon, peaches, apricots, etc.)
- Ascorbic acid (vitamin C): contained mainly in sour fruit (lemon, orange, grapefruit, strawberries, cherries, apples, etc.) and in certain vegetables (cauliflower, parsley, chilli, lettuce, radicchio, etc.)
- Tocopherols (vitamin E), especially alpha tocopherol: it is present almost everywhere even if in small quantities. Avocado, olives, spinach, turnip greens and especially oil seeds or extracted oils are very rich in them.
- Vitamin K: Actually, it's not that abundant, but vegetables are still the main food source.
- Folate: necessary for the synthesis of nucleic acids (very important for the development of the fetus), they abound in vegetables rich in chlorophyll (such as spinach, lettuce, radicchio, chicory, etc.) and in some fruits (such as apples and oranges) .
Lots of potassium, magnesium and little sodium
The fruit and vegetable diet is particularly suitable for people suffering from metabolic and / or cardiovascular diseases.
This is because fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium, magnesium and at the same time contain little sodium (the excess of which is implicated in the etiology of sensitive sodium high blood pressure).
Potassium promotes the urinary excretion of sodium and together with magnesium helps to maintain an alkaline PRAL.
Wealth of Fiber
The fruit and vegetable diet increases fiber
Fruits and vegetables contain a high percentage of fiber, of which a large part is of the soluble-viscous type.
Functions of fibers:
- They fight constipation and promote the regularity of the hive;
- They are not digested by the body, but favor the elimination of harmful substances;
- They modulate nutritional absorption, helping to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and decreasing the glycemic index;
- They provide a high sense of satiety, limiting the consumption of food, a useful aspect in slimming diets;
- They exert a prebiotic effect and maintain the trophism of the intestinal bacterial flora.
Wealth of Water
Role and importance of the water content
70% of our body is made up of water which, not only for this reason, is considered an essential nutrient. In fact, water is the matrix in which all the processes that allow cells to reproduce and preserve themselves take place.
It is also for this reason that doctors and nutritionists recommend drinking at least one liter of water a day. This indication does not correspond to our real requirement, which is at least double (about 2 liters for an average adult). Therefore, in addition to the liter of water to drink, the remaining 50% of the water requirement is covered by food and above all by: fruit, vegetables and milk; secondly (but not too much) are cooked meat, fish and cereals-legumes.
This is why sportsmen, who have a greater need for water to compensate for sweating, are generally not advised to eat preserved foods (cheeses, cured meats, etc.).
Water is also essential, in the right quantities (one or two glasses per meal, depending on the composition), to ensure proper digestion.
Seasonality of Fruits and Vegetables
Importance of seasonality for fruit and vegetables
Respecting the seasonality of fruit and vegetables is necessary to be sure of their nutritional richness. In fact, products stored for a long time in cold rooms (greater exposure to oxidative stress), or obtained from intensive agriculture, have a lower than normal chemical value.
Hence the recommendation to prefer seasonal fruit and vegetables, preferably local or "short supply chain".
Even badly preserved seasonal fruit undergoes exposure to free radicals, oxygen and light, losing most of the nutrients sensitive to them.
Raw or Cooked Vegetables
Both must be present in the diet, but the nutritional richness of the thermolabile molecules is guaranteed above all in raw products.
Among the thermolabile molecules stand out above all certain vitamins, which are notoriously degraded with heat (especially C and folates).
Furthermore, when cooking fruit and vegetables by poaching (or boiling), a dilution of the minerals in the surrounding liquid occurs.
Cooked fruits and vegetables are useful for increasing the portions and therefore the supply of fibers which, among other things, also become more soluble - viscous. This makes them more useful in bowel modulation and as prebiotics.To learn more, read also: The Red Diet The Yellow and Orange Diet The Green Diet The Purple-Blue Diet The White Diet
Recipe to prepare light stuffed vegetables, with little oil but very very tasty. Follow our video recipe
Vegetables Stuffed with Meat
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