Mediterranean Diet

Over the millennia, the people of the Mediterranean have formed their own recognisable habits which bring different and unique cultures and landscapes to the table.

Iberians, Celts, Greeks, Romans, Berbers and Arabs have all contributed to establishing the “Mediterranean trilogy” of bread, olive oil and wine. From the Near and Middle East came cereals, legumes, carrots, onions, garlic, plums, peaches, cherries, apricots, apple trees, pear trees, walnut trees, hazelnut trees and chestnut trees. From Europe came beetroot, chicory, cauliflower and asparagus; from the Far East came chickpeas, sesame, cucumber, aubergines, mustard, basil, citric fruits, Indian millet; from Southeast Asia and Oceania came rice, rosemary, pepper, sesame, cardamom, ginger, basil, cucumber, cider, sugarcane; from Africa came melon, watermelon, dates; and from America came corn, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, pepper, courgettes, pumpkins. Few Mediterranean dishes would be conceivable without these contributions. Thanks to them, one of the healthiest food models of the world was formed.

In the second half of the 20th century, modern science highlighted the exceptional nature of the Mediterranean lifestyle and its influence on the health of the population. The health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet were initially described in the 1950’s and 1960’s by Dr. Ancel Keys and collaborators in the “Study of seven countries” which detailed the role of this diet in coronary illness. The food habits in the Mediterranean area drew attention as a result of the confirmation that in those Mediterranean countries, the incidence of coronary illnesses was significantly lower than in other countries in the north of Europe.

Dr. Keys used science to help a thousand-year-old heritage, scientifically confirming that the knowledge accumulated over dozens of centuries, this lifestyle, this Mediterranean diet, was good for health, for an optimal ageing and for a longer life. Hippocrates, who practiced this lifestyle two thousand four hundred years ago, focused his efforts in the same direction: “We should ensure that people die as late as possible, not being young”.

However, the following and monitoring of the traditional pattern of the Mediterranean Diet reveals a progressive abandonment of it due to the influence of new eating habits and customs that are not healthy. These are already having negative repercussions in the Mediterranean countries. Obesity is considered to be the epidemic of the 21st century, especially among children, while cardiovascular illnesses continue to be the number one cause of death. The metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus are of significant importance in developed countries. These facts seem to go hand-in-hand with the abandonment of the Mediterranean lifestyle in the idea of the longevity among the countries in the Mediterranean basin. Avoiding the gradual abandonment of the Mediterranean Diet would have a favourable repercussion in terms of the regression of the illnesses mentioned as well as the conservation of agriculture and the traditional landscape, and the environment as a whole. Because of this, Dr. Javier Collado always advises that his patients follow a full and balanced diet like the Mediterranean one.

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