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The Mediterranean diet originates in the food cultures of ancient civilizations which developed around the Mediterranean Basin and is based on the regular consumption of olive oil as the main source of added fat, plant foods cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, tree nuts, and seeds, the moderate consumption of fish, seafood, and dairy, and low-to-moderate alcohol mostly red wine intake, balanced by a comparatively limited use of red meat and other meat products. A few decades ago, the Mediterranean diet drew the attention of medical professionals by proving extended health benefits. While its health benefits are universally recognized today by medical professionals, the present state of the Mediterranean diet is challenged by major difficulties in implementing this protective dietary pattern in other geographical and cultural areas and keeping it alive in traditional Mediterranean territories, also tainted by the unhealthy eating habits brought by worldwide acculturation. Traditional eating habits seen in geographical territories surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, although differentiated by some food choices and cooking practices specific to each country and culture, share a common set of basic features [ 1 ]. The specific dietary dimension of the Mediterranean lifestyle consists of a plant-based cuisine using vegetables, fruits, cereals, nuts, and legumes, most of them cooked by adding substantial amounts of olive oil, with moderate usage of fish, seafood or dairy, and limited intake of meat and alcohol mostly red wine [ 2 ]. This unique dietary pattern, the result of a complex and multi-millennial interaction between the natural food resources available in the Mediterranean environment and the human element inhabiting the Mediterranean basin throughout history, came to acquire new valences in the last century and to become a precious medical tool in the contemporaneous world [ 3 ]. In the moment when recognition of the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet has become universal, its paradoxical fate is that it is at risk of being extinguished in its homeland territories. Globalization, importation of Western habits, changes in lifestyle and the environment specific to modern civilization have brought a heavy toll on the traditional Mediterranean diet [ 7 ]. Given this contradictory stand between universal medical recognition and cultural extinction, this paper aims to review the current information referring to the inception and development of the Mediterranean diet, the major medical evidence supporting its health benefits, and the challenges it must outrun in order to avoid erosion, to maintain survival and sustainability, and to serve public health with the best resources it can offer. It is relatively difficult to pinpoint the beginnings of this diet, but it most probably developed along with populations living in the Mediterranean Basin ever since the dawn of civilization. Throughout history, the Mediterranean diet incorporated some of the habits brought by conquerors, while keeping most of the previous local traditions alive and functional.
Study links Mediterranean diet to reduced diabetes risk. How It Works The Mediterranean diet is a primarily plant-based eating plan that includes daily intake of whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices. He chose to evaluate tobacco use, diet, physical activity, weight status, blood pressure, heart rate, lung capacity, blood cholesterol levels, and electrocardiographic readings in seven cohorts formed from all men aged 40 to 59 inhabiting some well-selected rural communities in the former Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece, Finland, the Netherlands, the United States, and Japan [ 4 ]. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with the Mediterranean diet. Once you get the hang of it, try two nights a week. For the moment, some components of the Mediterranean diet were suggested to have a strong association with benefits in the primary and secondary prevention of cancer [ 73 ]. The Seven Countries Study had an observational design and limited power to demonstrate a cause—effect relationship.