History of appearance

The term Mediterranean diet was first used by American nutritionist Ancel Keys in the 1940s.(one)… Since the mid-1990s, this power system has confidently been included in the list of the most popular all over the world.

Despite its name, the diet is not a set of clear recommendations or instructions, but is a generalization of the dietary habits of residents of the northeast of Spain, the south of France, Portugal, Greece, Italy and several other Mediterranean countries.

Grocery list

Mediterranean diet versions vary by region and the list of foods available in that region. At the same time, the most healthy, Italian, version of the diet, the Italians themselves call “cucina povera”, Which can be translated as“ food for the poor ”.

It is necessary to understand that the inhabitants of post-war Europe replaced red meat with lentils not for reasons of healthy nutrition, but because of total poverty. The same applies to the modest amount of food consumed – people simply did not have the opportunity to eat more.

Basic principles of the diet

The main aspects of the diet are the replacement of animal fats with vegetable oils (mainly olive oil), the consumption of large amounts of vegetables, nuts, legumes, unrefined cereals, the daily consumption of fish and seafood.

The consumption of dairy products (milk, cheese and butter) in the typical Mediterranean diet is at an average level, the consumption of meat and poultry, as well as various eggs, is low. In addition, a moderate amount of wine is allowed daily.

Mediterranean diet recipes

It is important to distinguish between Mediterranean cuisine and Mediterranean diet. As such, the diet has never meant specific dishes, since the inhabitants of almost twenty countries of the Mediterranean Sea have historically preferred quite different diets.

If the French, Spaniards and Portuguese drink wine calmly at lunch and dinner, then in Muslim countries (Egypt, Morocco, Turkey) the use of alcohol is limited by religion. The same goes for pork and a number of other foods, including olive oil.

Health benefits

Years of Spanish Research Universidad de Navarra have shown that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease by 30%, and the risk of developing cancer by 24%. In addition, this diet is useful for diabetes and hypertension.(2)

With regard to weight loss, the effect is not so clear, since the diet does not imply recommendations regarding the calorie intake and consumption of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Most often, health improvement occurred without losing excess weight.

The most important component

Ansel Keys was of the opinion that replacing saturated animal fats with healthier vegetable oils and unsaturated fats prevalent in fish and seafood is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet.(3)

The researchers also note the fact that the inhabitants of the countries of the Mediterranean coast lead an active lifestyle, doing a lot of daily work and being constantly on the move. In addition, they are much less prone to depression and bad mood.

Scientific rationale

Oleic acid (up to 70% by volume), contained in vegetable oils in large quantities, belongs to Omega-9 unsaturated fatty acids and is a powerful natural antioxidant. It improves metabolism and slows down the aging process.

Olive oil contains high levels of vitamins E and K, which are responsible for immunity and energy processes in the body. The high iodine content of seafood is important for a healthy metabolism, and the high fiber content in vegetables is important for digestion.


The Mediterranean diet is a diet rich in vegetables, seafood and vegetable fats. Despite the significant benefits of such a diet, this diet only normalizes nutrition, but does not serve the purpose of getting rid of excess weight.

Scientific sources:

  1. Mediterranean diet, Wikipedia Article, source
  2. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet, source
  3. Does the Mediterranean Diet Even Exist, source
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