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THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET: HOW DID IT START?

THE 1940s

A study was conducted in 1948 on the dietary habits of the population of the island of Crete. The results were compared with the dietary habits of other populations. The contribution made by vegetable and animal foods, oils and fats respectively, was highlighted between the Greek, Cretan and American diets, the results being 74%, 61% and 37% (vegetables); 19%, 7% and 29% (food of animal origin) and 15%, 29% and 15% (oils and fats) respectively.

The effect on health made by the nutritional style of Mediterranean populations, where the incidence of some diseases was lower than in Anglo Saxon and North European populations, thus began to be evaluated.



THE 1970s

The possible health implications of very different diets were investigated further and demonstrated. The study performed in the Cilento area (between the Basilicata and Campania regions in Italy) by Ancel Keys can be considered the first truly systematic study. Many others followed.

FROM THE 1980s TO DATE

Despite all the criticism and controversy, further analyses on the dietary habits of different countries ….. highlighted the fact that the further people move away from the so-called “Mediterranean Diet” the greater the incidence of “Western diseases”.

Over time, an increasing number of studies have provided evidence of the positive influence on health of the diet followed in Mediterranean areas, including in relation to the control of problems such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

NOTE:
1) Ancel Keys, "Coronary heart disease in seven countries", Circulation, 1970 41, (Suppl. 1)