Healthy Alternatives of the Mediterranean Diet in Latvia

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Abstract

The milestone of illness prophylaxis is a healthy lifestyle, which is composed of regular physical activity and a healthy diet. Following the Mediterranean diet for two years has been shown to have significant decrease in cardiovascular death by 9%, cancer by 6%, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's by 13%. This diet helps to control the perfect weight, improves lipid profile and diminishes the risk of diabetes. The Mediterranean diet consists of extra virgin olive oil, vegetables and fruit, wholegrain products, legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy products (with no other sources of fat other than milk fat), fish (at least twice a week), poultry, veal, pork in limited amount, and eggs - 0-4 per week. It is possible to adapt this kind of alimentation in the Nordic countries, but it is important to find products grown there with similar nutritional characteristics. Nowadays, fresh fruits and vegetables can be bought all year round, but it is essential to use seasonal products. In Latvia, at this point, attention should be brought to more efficient storage and conservation. We have a vast variety of legumes and cereals. The selection of dairy products should be bigger and of higher quality, because you rarely see local cheeses made in an artisanal manner at the marketplaces. There is good availability of saltwater fish in the cities, but in the countryside the only fish one can buy is salted and smoked, having exaggeratedly high amounts of salt. Consumption of meat and its products should be lowered to a maximum of three times per week. A special attention should be brought to game (such as deer), because it contains low levels of cholesterol and higher amounts of unsaturated fatty acids due to the alimentation of wild herbs. Unfortunately, there is a lack of good quality oil in Latvia, because no other product can be compared to the nutritious components of extra virgin olive oil and its effects on cardiovascular health. Consumption of high amounts of olive oil decreases the incidence of stroke by 41%. Education should be conducted widely to promote tradition and gastronomic heritage as a cultural aspect. Healthy lifestyle has to be visible to everyone at any time as a constant reminder of its importance.

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