Mediterranean dietary patterns in the 1960s

Many Mediterranean diets

Ancel Keys and his Italian colleague Flaminio Fidanza and their SCS colleagues were central to the modern recognition, definition, and promotion of the eating pattern they found in Italy and Greece in the 1950s and ’60s, now popularly called “The Mediterranean Diet”. Ancel Keys was the first researcher who associated the traditional Mediterranean diet with a low risk of CHD. However, the Mediterranean diet does not exist. The Mediterranean Sea borders 18 countries that differ markedly in geography, economic status, health, lifestyle and diet.

Traditional Mediterranean diets had olive oil as their principal component of fat, were high in cereal products, legumes, fruit and vegetables, moderate in fish and low in dairy and meat products. Moderate amounts of wine were taken with meals. The traditional Mediterranean diets were nutritionally adequate with a varying amounts of total fat, low in saturated fat and very low in trans fat, rich in fiber and in antioxidant vitamins or flavonoids.

Mediterranean diets in the the Seven Countries Study in the 1960s

The Seven Countries Study included four Mediterranean cohorts: Crete and Corfu in Greece, Dalmatia in Croatia and Montegiorgio in Italy. In the 1960s the Greek diet had the highest content of olive oil and was high in fruit, the Dalmatian diet was highest in fish and the Italian diet was high in vegetables. In line with their diet, these cohorts were characterized by low mortality rates from CHD.


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