The Mediterranean Diet is a dietary pattern inspired by the habits and customs of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, which has developed over the centuries under the influence of various civilizations.
The origins of MD encompass the history of Western civilization. Influenced by religion, tradition, economics and politics, it is based on the biblical seven species - wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and date honey - which, together with some indigenous foods from the Middle East, are now scientifically recognized as healthy foods, and the addition of some of these could further enhance the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
The favourable climate and fertile soil, which have always characterised the coasts bordering the Mediterranean Sea, have allowed the development of crops that represent the basis for a healthy, virtuous and varied cuisine. In this regard, it should be noted that many foods popular in modern cuisine, such as tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and sugar cane, aren’t native to this geographical area. These came to the Mediterranean basin mainly from Asia and America, finding here the ideal environment for their growth.
The scientific interest in this model and its benefits began with the first pilot study “Seven Countries Study”, which had the American biologist and physiologist Ancel Keys as its main initiator and was started in the late 1950s with the aim of studying the relationship between the lifestyle of seven different countries and cardiovascular health. This study had as its headquarters the rural area of Nicotera, Calabria, where the local diet of the time was defined as the Italian Reference Mediterranean Diet. The results showed higher incidence and mortality rates for cardiovascular disease in North America and Northern Europe, where there was high consumption of saturated fats (meat, eggs, cheese and other animal-based products) and general eating habits far removed from the Mediterranean dietary pattern (consumption of beer and alcoholic drinks out of meal), than in Southern Europe and Japan, where cereals, fruit, vegetables, olive oil and wine were mostly consumed. Hence the concept of the Mediterranean Diet was born and its protective and preventive role began to emerge.
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Vocabolario ARIANNALa dieta mediterranea