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The Mediterranean diet is more than a dietary pattern; it’s the heritage of millennia of exchanges of people, cultures, and foods of all countries around the Mediterranean basin.
The health benefits associated with it have been established by the pioneer Seven Countries Study, followed by numerous other ones. More specifically, it’s been proven to reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some neuro-degenerative diseases, and cancers. In 2010, the Mediterranean diet was also recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
The Mediterranean diet pyramid provides both a qualitative and quantitative visual representation of the foods, their relative proportions, and the frequency of consumption.
At the base, we can find food items that should sustain the diet and provide the highest energy intake, and at the upper levels, foods to be eaten in moderate amounts or left for special occasions.
Traditionally, Mediterranean dishes do not have animal-origin protein foods as a main source of protein.
Foods rich in sugars and unhealthy fat, such as candies, pastries, and beverages like sweetened fruit juices and soft drinks.
Cultural and lifestyle elements
There are cultural and lifestyle factors associated with this dietary pattern, such as moderation, a preference for seasonal, fresh, and minimally processed foods, the combination with physical activity (at least 30 minutes throughout the day), and socialization, since time devoted to meals, knowledge transmitted from generation to generation and conviviality are important for the social and cultural aspects of eating, positively affecting food behaviors and therefore health status.
This content is educational in purpose and not to be intended as medical advice.
About the Author
Dr. Patrizia Scali is an Italian ECFMG-certified medical doctor.
Dr. Scali graduated medical school from Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy and has completed all 3 USMLE Step exams. She has also completed an Accelerated Certificate Program in Business Administration at University of California, Irvine (UCI).
Dr. Scali has conducted pediatric hematology research in Italy, as well as hepatology lab research at Yale School of Medicine in the US.
She has worked as a primary care physician in Italy, her home country, where she also had extensive experience as a telemedicine doctor.
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