A FORUM to debate the Mediterranean diet was recently held in São Brás de Alportel, an event that served to confirm the advantages of this style of diet and alerted the public to the dangers of it disappearing.
Bread, wine and olive oil are the central elements of the Mediterranean diet and of Portugal’s traditional culinary style. Clearly an emotive subject for many, the event, which took place last weekend, was attended by more than 200 people.
The initiative, for Renato dos Santos, president of Associação Al-Portel and organiser of the event, was a triumph. Its success could not only be measured by the number of participants, but by the conclusions that could be drawn – the health benefits and monetary savings to be gained by the people of Portugal.
The objectives of holding the forum were met. On the one hand, as had been hoped, those who took part concluded that this type of diet is one of the healthiest, with the added advantage that it is also very tasty. The diet is part of Portugal’s traditional way of life and, therefore, it is something that should be preserved.
On the other hand, the products used to cook typical Mediterranean dishes are less calorific than those used by other regions in the world. From here, the conclusion was also taken that this diet is environmentally friendly, with the advantage of it being easy on the wallet.
Despite all of these characteristics, Mediterranean cooking is losing ground to other types of diets that are of inferior quality – a tendency that is becoming more and more evident among children.
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Renato dos Santos made an appeal for the Ministry of Education and local councils to intervene at school level. He mentioned the good example set by São Brás de Alportel, which has contracted a nutritionist to provide advice at local schools. “This measure must be introduced throughout the country’s schools,” he said.
The president also spoke of his wish to see greater awareness in regard to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet promoted in hotels, which, he said, could become an added attraction for ensuring the loyalty of tourists.
One of the health benefits of the diet highlighted at the forum was that homemade Mediterranean style soups can help to prevent diseases such as cancer of the colon and cancer of the intestines.