The Mediterranean diet
We have all heard about the Mediterranean Diet,
its health benefits,
how it increases longevity,
its relation to lower rates of cardiovascular and other diseases.
But, do we really know its origins or how it was “discovered”?
Let’s have a quick look at the story behind the now widely known term “Mediterranean Diet”:
In the early 1950s, a research group led by the American scientist Ancel Keys launched an ambitious study known as the “Seven Countries Study”.
The group studied the nutritional habits of different populations from Yugoslavia, Greece, the USA, Japan, Italy, Holland and Finland.
(The famous professor Ancel Keys was also known as “Mr. Cholesterol”, since he was the first to point out the correlation between cardiovascular disease and what we eat, and, in particular, between cholesterol and coronary heart disease.)
The “Seven Countries Study” continues to be a landmark study; 12,500 people, 40-60 years of age, were enrolled.
Its findings indicated that the population of Greece, and in particular Crete, presented the lowest rate of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases and cancer and, therefore, the highest life expectancy.
The study was the reason behind further studies that were conducted and linked the above findings to the traditional Mediterranean Diet and the lifestyle of Cretan people.
Since then, it has been scientifically proven that this nutrition model greatly contributes to both the prevention and the cure of cardiovascular diseases.
The link between the two is so strong that world health organisations officially recommend the Mediterranean Diet as a way to prevent cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer and other diseases, as well as to control blood sugar levels.
It is also widely recognised as the most balanced and complete diet for weight loss and weight management.
Although the Mediterranean Diet was first introduced by Ancel Keys in 1945, it became widely known and was presented in an easy to understand manner in 1995 by Dr. Walter Willett of the School of Public Health, Harvard University. This is how the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was created to illustrate in an easy and comprehensible way the key principles of this beneficial diet.