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”... deriving from the Greek “diaita” meaning way of life,  the Mediterranean diet is a social practice based on the set of skills, knowledge and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table of the Mediterranean area, including the crops, harvest, fisheries, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food” – 16th November 2010, Nairobi, Mediterranean Diet, intangible cultural heritage -  UNESCO

 

The Mediterranean Diet helps to reduce the factors contributing to diet–related chronic degenerative diseases. It also increases social well-being and reduces public health costs, and is therefore a scientific certainty continually confirmed and updated by new studies and research from scientific bodies all over the world.

American scientist Ancel Keys is credited with discovering the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. He coordinated the pioneering “Seven Countries Study”  which highlighted the correlation between cardiovascular diseases and diet.

The results of this study did not actually leave any room for doubt: the more the eating habits of the 12,000 people surveyed diverged from the Mediterranean patterns, the higher the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.

In particular, southern Italians were seen to eat more plant-derived foods, such as cereals (pasta, rice, bread, biscuits), a wide variety of vegetables, fruit and they preferred animal-derived foods such as cheese and eggs rather than meat and fish.

Extra-virgin olive oil was almost the only condiment used.

Since then numerous studies have confirmed the close interaction between dietary pattern and cardiovascular diseases and physicians and nutritionists still agree in recommending a diet like the Mediterranean model, in which the daily caloric intake is distributed in the best way over different foods according to a pyramid-shaped model.

Unfortunately, modern dietary patterns have diverged from the Mediterranean food pattern,  so that that there are now problems related to overweight and obesity even in the Mediterranean countries which are the traditional home of the Mediterranean diet.

 

 Related articles:

* Food system sustainability and food security: connecting the dots

* Mediterranean diet pyramid today. Science and cultural updates

* Mediterranean food consumption patterns: low environmental impacts and significant health and nutrition benefits

* Mediterranean Diet: territorial identity and food safety

* Developing a methodological approach for assessing the sustainability of diets: The Mediterranean diet as a case study

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