Mediterranean diet

Ancel Keys and his Italian colleague Flaminio Fidanza and their colleagues at the Seven Countries Study 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.

Scores on the Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean Adequacy Index (MAI). An index score based on typical Mediterranean foods: bread, cereals, legumes, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, fish, olive oil, and wine and non-typical Mediterranean foods: milk, cheese, eggs, meat, hard fats and sweet products.

Mediterranean Diet score (MDS). A score indicating compliance to the Mediterranean diet. A high intake of Mediterranean foods: cereals, legumes, fruit, vegetables, fish, Mon-unsaturated fatty acids to Saturated fatty acids (M/S) ratio, and wine were scored positive (1) and a high intake of the non-Mediterranean foods: dairy and meat negative (0). The score ranged from 0 to 9 and the higher the score the better the compliance to a traditional Mediterranean diet.

Mediterranean style diets and CVD

Adhering to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 39% lower coronary mortality risk and a 29% lower cardiovascular mortality risk in middle-aged and elderly European men and women in the HALE project.
(Knoops et al. JAMA 2004;292:1433-9)

Study findings about the Mediterranean diet:

Dietary patterns and all-cause mortality

Diets contain nutrients, and these are generally highly correlated with other factors due to the choice of foods in which they occur, but also on the consumption of a particular food at the expense of another one. These factors are taken into account when indicators of dietary patterns are evaluated.

Dietary patterns and all-cause mortality

Mediterranean dietary patterns in the 1960s

The traditional Mediterranean diet was a nutritionally adequate diet with a varying total fat content, low in saturated fat and very low in trans fat, rich in fiber and antioxidant vitamins or flavonoids.

Mediterranean dietary patterns in the 1960s