The Mediterranean diet is a nutritional model inspired by the traditional eating styles of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Scientists from all over the world have started studying it since the 1950s and still today it remains among the diets that, associated with correct lifestyles, have a positive influence on our health.
The first observational study on the Mediterranean diet, which became famous as the "study of the seven countries", was conducted by the American biologist and physiologist Ancel Keys in which the diets adopted by the United States, Italy, Finland, Greece, Yugoslavia and the Netherlands were compared. and Japan to verify its benefits and critical points in terms of cardiovascular health.
Ancel Keys bought a house in a locality of Pioppi (another village that falls within the territory of Pollica) which he will baptize Minnelea, in homage to the city of Minneapolis and the nearby Elea, the Polis of Parmenides and Zeno. Keys spent 28 years in Cilento to study the eating habits of the local population. It was the 1970s and mass tourism did not appear in the vocabulary of these parts.
The results of this study did not leave many doubts: the more we departed from the Mediterranean schemes, the higher the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.
In November 2010, Unesco ratified the decision and the Mediterranean Diet became intangible heritage.
The eating style identified by this study, and by many other researches that followed it, is based on the prevalent consumption of foods of plant origin such as cereals and derivatives (wholemeal pasta and bread), legumes, fruit, vegetables and extra virgin olive oil ; and on moderate consumption of animal products such as meat, dairy products and fish.
The scientific literature of recent decades can help us make hypotheses about the reasons for the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet on health. First of all, the fact that this eating style involves the consumption of low-calorie foods such as vegetables, fruit, cereals and legumes which in addition ensure a supply of fiber that protects against the onset of many chronic diseases; moreover, numerous positive biological activities have been found for our organism by compounds present almost exclusively in foods of vegetable origin. It is enough to mention two components that prove to be fundamental for the prevention of many diseases: the properties of the polyphenols contained in fruit, vegetables, seeds and extra virgin olive oil, pigments such as carotenoids and vitamins such as C and E that work from antioxidants.
(Source: Veronesi foundation)
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