What does the Mediterranean Diet include?
- Lots of plant foods
- Fresh fruit as dessert
- High consumption of beans, nuts, cereals and seeds
- Olive oil as the main source of dietary fat
- Cheese and yogurt as the main dairy foods
- Moderate amounts of fish and poultry
- No more than about four eggs each week
- Small amounts of red meat each week (compared to northern Europe)
- Low to moderate amounts of wine
- 25% to 35% of calorie intake consists of fat
- Saturated fat makes up no more than 8% of calorie intake
Even though Dr. Ancel Keys (USA), who was stationed in southern Italy, publicized the Mediterranean diet, it was not until about the 1990s that the Mediterranean diet was widely recognized and followed elsewhere by nutritionally conscious people.
Compared to other Western diets, the Mediterranean diet was seen by others as a bit of an enigma. Although fat consumption is high, the prevalence of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes has always been significantly lower in Mediterranean countries than northern European countries and the USA.