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The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet phenomenon began in the late 1950s when an American Nutritionist named Dr. Ansel Keys discovered that many Cretan men had a very low rate of heart disease and cancer and a longer life expectancy. He noted that they consumed lots of olive oil. Dr. Keys conducted a 15-year study of the cardiac disease and cancer rates in what became known as the "Seven Country Study." The countries included Greece (specifically Crete and Corfu), Finland, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, and Yugoslavia. The results of the study confirmed his theory with low instances of either disease in Crete and high instances in the other participating countries. Hence, the Diet was born.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, which represents the optimal, traditional Mediterranean Diet, is based on the dietary traditions of Crete in the 1960s.  It is structured around the nutrition research presented by Professor Walter Willet during the 1993 International Conference on the Diets of the Mediterranean, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Pyramid highlights the importance of the foods making up the principal food groups.  Each of these individual food groups offers some, but not all, of the nutrients one needs. Food from one group cannot replace that of another group. All the groups are necessary for a healthy diet. Regular physical activity is vital to maintaining good health and optimal weight. Wine can be consumed in moderation, primarily with meals (1 - 2 glasses/day).

 

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