The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by: (a) high consumption of cereals, vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, fish, and seafood; (b) the use of olive oil as the main, if not the only, added lipid; (c) moderate consumption of milk and dairy products; (d) moderate intake of alcohol, in the form of wine and preferably during meals; and (e) low consumption of meat and meat products. The prevalent consumption of olive oil and the low consumption of animal products are reflected in the high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat intake, typical of the dietary pattern in the region. There is increasing evidence from observational and experimental epidemiological studies, further enriched by the conclusions of their systematic reviews and meta-analyses, that adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern promotes health and reduces the risk of premature death from chronic degenerative diseases. Mediterranean countries and especially the European ones have experienced a “westernization” process of their food habits, and have increased the per capita supply of non-Mediterranean foods (animal fats, vegetable oils other than olive oil, sugar, and meat) and decreased the supply of legumes and alcoholic beverages, including wine. The evidence that Mediterraneans are gradually departing from their traditional eating habits does not only refer to the adult population in the region, but it has also been reproduced in large-scale nutritional surveys among children, adolescents, and young adults – the trend-setters for future generations. Next to the effect on people’s health, the gradual abandoning of the traditional Mediterranean diet cannot support sustainable development in the way the Mediterranean diet does. Being adjusted to the cultural, climatic, and other environmental characteristics of the region, the Mediterranean diet is protective and helpful to biodiversity, accessible and economically affordable, and contributes to food and nutrition security.
Intake of Mediterranean foods / Siotos, Charalampos; Vinceti, Marco; Naska, Androniki. - (2017), pp. 1-23. [10.1007/978-3-319-54528-8_26-1]