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.
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,
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).