Spanish diet - is it healthy?

Recommended wholegrain breads, pasta and rice, are not very popular in Spain. Spain's culinary traditions rely on an abundance of locally grown vegetables and fruits as well as meats and poultry. Jamón serrano (a cured ham), and chorizo (a seasoned sausage) are popular. Seafood and fish are popular in coastal areas. Olive oil and garlic are common ingredients. The tradition of tapas, now enjoyed in many U.S. restaurants, originated with the practice of bartenders covering a glass of wine or beer with a small plate of free appetizers. The great variety of tapas enjoyed today are testimony to their popularity.The Spanish tradition of eating tapas is a dream health recipe.

Spanish people have several meals each day. In the morning, people usually start with a light breakfast typically with coffee, sweet rolls, toasts or biscuits. Lunch is the main hot meal of the day. Families gather to eat it in the mid-afternoon. Between lunch and the evening meal people often have a snack late in the afternoon.

Intake of fruit and vegetables is too low, and dietary habits in Spain are moving towards an average Western diet. Intake of cereal products (bread, pasta, rice, etc.) is actually very low.

The best-known Spanish dish, a stew called paella, originated in Valencia, an eastern province on the Mediterranean Sea. Rice, a main ingredient, is grown in Valencia's tidal flatlands. Though there are numerous variations, paella is usually made of a variety of shellfish (such as shrimp, clams, crab, and lobster), chorizo (sausage), vegetables (tomatoes, peas, and asparagus), chicken and/or rabbit, and long-grained rice. Broth, onion, garlic, wine, pimiento (sweet red pepper), and saffron add flavour to the Spanish people eat the most legumes, fruits, fish, meat, fats and eggs. Their high intake of legumes and fruit is positive and reflects Mediterranean dietary heritage. High intake of fats, eggs and meat (red meat, white meat, processed meat) is responsible for the fact that the contribution of protein and fat to the overall calorie-intake in Spain exceeds the recommendations and are above the maximum allowance. The average Spanish adult eats 163g of meat and meat products a day. The high intake of red meat (69g a day) is especially worrying, because it has a high climate impact.

High consumption of fish and seafood is a positive aspect of the Spanish diet.

I have chosen five most popular Spanish dishes. I wrote percentage daily value next to each of them and draw a pie to illustrate that. The three main nutrients that make up our diets are protein, carbohydrate, and fat. A healthy diet for the average person is composed of about 50 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent protein, and 30 percent fat.

When you eat 1 cup of paella you get: 350 kcal, 20% omega-3, 35% protein, 20% fats, 37% carbs, 97% B12 vitamin, 89% selenium, 60% copper, 56% sodium, 35% phosphorus, 29% manganese, 27% iron, 25% vitamin D

From one cup of gazpacho you get: 84 kcal, 9% carbs, 7% fats, 4% protein, 18% omega-3, 60% vitamin C, sodium 45%, 41% vitamin A, 20% vitamin B6.

From 2 small empanadas with pork and vegetables you get: 150 kcal, 9% carbs, 12% fats, 19% omega-3, 12% protein, 18% vitamin B1, 27% selenium, 12% iron, 12% vitamin B2

With one albondigas cup you get: 200 kcal, 12% carbs, 14% fats, 26% protein, 53% vitamin B12, 69% vitamin A, 27% vitamin B6, 23% vitamin B3, sodium 100%, 29% zinc, 23% selenium and 23% iron

3 croquetas have: 484 kcal, 26% carbs, 38% fats, 30% omega-6, 27% omega-3, 54% protein, 56% vitamin B3, 40% vitamin K, 42% vitamin B2, 41% vitamin B12, 39% vitamin B1, 29% vitamin A, 67% selenium, 44% phosphorus, 41% iron, 24% zinc.

As you see, Spanish people with their every day meals, gets too little carbohydrates, fats and protein amounts are immoderate. 


  1. Anonymous3/19/2016

    Any comments on the fish diet?

  2. Anonymous4/20/2016

    Would consuming more candies make a positive difference?

  3. As a Spanish person I have to say that the amount and examples of a Spanish diet are not very accurate. Fruits and vegetables have a strong presence in our diet, and their quality is excellent

  4. Portuguese diet is much the same