The Mediterranean diet also includes local vegetables and fruits, photo: Adobestock /Stanisław Błachowicz
The most important in the model of the Mediterranean diet are products that come from the local market, among them seasonal vegetables and fruits. They are the basis of nutrition, because they are present in the crops in this area. Polish consumers mistakenly simplify the recommendations to products that come from the Mediterranean. Only every seventh person believes that Polish vegetables and fruits make it possible to follow the Mediterranean diet model. This makes it incomprehensible to us, sometimes exotic and usually expensive. Specialists postulate polonization of the Mediterranean diet. Here are the conclusions from the research carried out by Kantar Public and the opinions of dieticians - Edyta Dutkiewicz, Milena Nosek, Monika Stromkie-Złomaniec and dr hab. n. of Dr. Mariusz Panczyk from the Department of Education and Research in Health Sciences, Medical University of Warsaw.
Mediterranean diet according to Polish women and men
Poles most often believe that the Mediterranean diet should include seafood and fish such as salmon (49%), olive oil (43%), southern fruits (38%), southern vegetables and herbs (33%) seafood and fish such as salmon 49%; fish such as tench, crucian carp, pike, zander or carp in total 20%, olive oil 43%, rapeseed oil, together with others, e.g. southern, 33% mention southern vegetables and herbs; similar declarations for Polish species - 15% in total, fruit or vegetable juices were mentioned by 23% of respondents, grape wines, e.g. Tuscan - 17%; fruit wines, e.g. currant wines - 7% in total, the least often respondents indicated potatoes (6%), pork (6%) and horse or sheep meat (4%). Less than one fifth of Poles (18%) could not identify any product that would allow them to follow the Mediterranean diet model.
The Mediterranean diet is primarily a wealth of vegetables and fruits on the plate. This is followed by specific nutrients, but the most important thing is that these are local vegetables and fruits, including seasonal ones.
Mediterranean diet in Polish
“Products typical of the Mediterranean basin can be exchanged for our native ones. Southern fruits, which we buy so massively, for a huge selection of berries, but also apples, pears, which are available all year round. It is worth promoting this way of eating in Poland, but with the use of our native products. Because the crux of the matter is not "olive oil", the key is the regular use of local products. Such as rapeseed oil, also called the olive of the north” - explains Monika Stromkie-Złomaniec, clinical nutritionist, expert in projects improving eating habits and Core Team expert.
Berries are characteristic of our climate. In Poland, we have exceptional conditions for growing berries. Large temperature amplitudes, both annual and daily, give them an intense flavor and color. Nowhere else in the world are so many of their species cultivated.
For the inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin, a natural element of everyday nutrition is, for example, olive oil. Its local equivalent in Poland, which is in no way inferior to it, is rapeseed oil. In many parameters, it even has an advantage over it - higher content of vitamin E, lower content of saturated acids, ten times higher content of Omega 3 acids, a more favorable ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 acids.
“In Poland, we believe that olive oil has a great fat profile, and we forget about our rapeseed oil, flax oil or sea buckthorn oil. We focus on exotic fruits, and forget about berries, which have more qualities. They have a greater antioxidant potential, which is why we use them against cancer, in the prevention of heart disease, osteoporosis or other civilization diseases - points out Milena Nosek, clinical dietitian, graduate of the Medical University of Warsaw. - And we specialists miss the fact that we should promote Polish berries. Chokeberry, currant, sea buckthorn, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, gooseberries. Blueberries, which Poles are so eager to eat, mini kiwi grown in Poland or Kamchatka berry, of which we are the largest producer in the world. They are underestimated and our communication lacks the message that they should stand on this pedestal of health" - she adds.
We have all the ingredients in place
Half of what we eat should be vegetables, fruits and local preserves that are made of them. They should be part of the daily diet of Poles. They contain the same wealth of bioactive and nutritional ingredients as those contained in fruits and vegetables that grow in the Mediterranean countries. In order to eat healthy, both of them do not need to import anything.
“It is also worth thinking in terms of disenchantment of Polish cuisine, which is perceived as greasy and heavy. It is worth rediscovering the great traditions of Polish culinary culture, which can provide us with a good, balanced diet that has all the necessary parameters of a healthy diet. As specialists, we should emphasize that the model of nutrition based on vegetables and fruits brings us long-term benefits. It is not only the treatment of overweight and obesity, but prevention against various diseases and ensuring well-being on a daily basis" - explains Edyta Dutkiewicz, psychologist, dietician, psychodietitian, doctoral student at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology at the Department of Nutrition of the Medical University of Gdańsk.
Through the eyes of specialists and educators
For doctors and nutritionists, the "Mediterranean diet" is a scientific term and a model of nutrition. It was introduced in the 1950s after the characteristic eating behaviors of Italian and Spanish inhabitants were studied. When referring to the Mediterranean diet in Polish, we should talk about a healthy lifestyle, an element of which are eating behaviors and habits. In a conversation with the patient, the word "diet" should be replaced with "eating habits".
“Polonizing” this type of eating habit consists in building behaviors that are based on local and seasonally available products. An element of lifestyle should be a local market, a bazaar, a small market, a shop with Polish vegetables.
“Nutrition education should start from kindergarten. To show what it means to live a good lifestyle, which includes physical activity, what we eat, what we have on our plate. Show the closeness of nature and the healthy atmosphere of everyday life. With less stress, with less haste, a balanced lifestyle that is characteristic of southern Europe, and may also be characteristic of Polish society. If we work on it,” encourages Dr. n. o zdr. Mariusz Panczyk from the Department of Education and Research in Health Sciences, Medical University of Warsaw.
The result of the involvement of many communities of producers and clinical nutritionists is the desire to make the Mediterranean diet Polish. The first recommendations and lists of local equivalents can be created relatively quickly. But the process of nutritional education will certainly be counted in years, if not decades.
The study was financed by the Fruit and Vegetables Promotion Fund as part of the implementation by KZGPOiW of the project "CORE TEAM - promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption and sector cooperation forum, 3rd edition".
The National Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers Groups supports the integration of the horticultural sector and the increase of awareness of the role of fruit and vegetables in everyday nutrition. Together with Kantar Public and INSPIRE, smarter branding implements constant monitoring of the consumption of key species. It is available on the website YesterdayNaTalerzu.pl.
Source: National Union of Fruit and Vegetable Producers' Groups