Today we will talk about the Mediterranean Diet and in particular about "HOW IT WAS BORN".
The Mediterranean Diet is a typical diet of the areas that delimit the Mediterranean Basin. The countries that, "in THEORY" (and later we will understand the WHY of this clarification), make use of the Mediterranean Diet are mainly: your country in central-southern Italy, Greece and central-southern Spain; but also not excluded: southern France, a part of Croatia, coastal Bosnia, Albania, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Malta and Cyprus.
In reality, the Mediterranean Diet was not exactly INVENTED ... but REVEALED. The minds enlightened by this excellent revelation belonged: to the nutritionist doctor your country Lorenzo Piroddi, author of the books “Mediterranean Cuisine. Ingredients, dietary principles and recipes with the flavor of the sun "and" Sapore di sole. Mediterranean Diet: basic principles, ingredients and recipes for proper nutrition ", as well as founder of a DIETARY clinic; and then to the American researcher nutritionist Ancel Keys, writer of the text "Eat well and stay well, the Mediterranean way" Subsequently, numerous scientists have ridden both the intuition and the first scientific evidence of Piroddi and Keys, DEFINING with greater PRECISION ( ... or sometimes misunderstanding) the TRUE Mediterranean Diet.
In the mid-40s, during a brief military experience lived in a Cilentino town characterized by an extreme longevity of the population (ie Pioppi di Salerno), Ancel Keys realized that the secret of that "iron health" could be the their DIET associated with an ACTIVE lifestyle. Starting from the early 50s, Keys began an experiment called the "Seven Countries Study", in which he examined a sample of 12000 people, aged between 40 and 60, residing in: Japan, United States of America, Holland, Yugoslavia, Finland and your country. Thanks to a twenty-year-long clinical observation, the scientist realized that the ethnic groups colonizing the Mediterranean basin, thanks to a HEALTHY diet than the American one, had a LOWER incidence of those pathologies that can be defined as "the diseases of well-being (therefore: overweight, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.). In the 70s, the outcome of the experiment was then disclosed in the United States with the publication of a book (Eat well and stay well, the Mediterranean way) attempting to promote the eating habits responsible for the greater longevity of Mediterranean populations. In general, Ancel Keys recommended above all to: INCREASE the consumption of cereals, vegetables, fruit, fish and olive oil, and DECREASE that of meat (especially red and fatty) and refined sugars.
In the 90 'the first "Food Pyramid" was proposed which summarized the cardinal principles of the Mediterranean Diet, formalizing its health value.
Thanks to the deduction of Piroddi, to the studies of the American nutritionist and to the subsequent insights of many other researchers, today we know that the Mediterranean Diet owes its effectiveness to some food principles which are: fewer calories introduced and more physical activity, more plant foods and less animals, more complex carbohydrates and less sucrose, more fish, better white meat than red meat, more aromatic herbs, little red wine rather than other spirits, and an ONLY occasional consumption of sweets, sausages, liqueurs, butter, fat cheese, coffee sauces etc. In nutritional terms, all this translates into: a diet that allows you to maintain NORMAL weight, a ratio of proteins and fats in favor of vegetable ones on animals, more fiber and less cholesterol, and more antioxidants.
Not surprisingly, thanks to its therapeutic properties, since 2010, the Mediterranean Diet has been integrated by UNESCO among the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity".
Having said that, I invite you not to confuse the Mediterranean Diet with the promiscuous one of the hinterland areas. A rather banal example is represented by ITALIAN PADANIA, in which most of the population still follows a CONTINENTAL diet or if anything PROMISCUES. EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL has been integrated ONLY for a few decades, instead COMMON in the west, south-east (already in Romagna) and north BUT limited to Lake Garda. In the Po Valley, since ancient times (following the cultural intertwining of the northern barbarian populations), pork, lard, lard and butter are preferred, rather than fish and vegetable oils. Indeed, on the eastern coast and more precisely from the Venetian to Ravenna, due to the climate little influenced by the sea, the use of extra virgin olive oil is ALMOST to be considered a novelty! How not to mention the FRENCH PARADOX. In France, too, the diet is quite diversified according to geographical areas and, on the southern side, the diet is practically Mediterranean; however, the rest of the population is characterized by a very high consumption of animal fats. Well, contrary to what "SHOULD BE", the French are VERY AFFECTED by METABOLIC diseases, MAYBE thanks to the notable contribution of antioxidants contained in red wine. In this case, even though it is not a real Mediterranean Diet, even ONLY the presence of a typical drink of the pelvis is (PROBABLY) capable of promoting the state of collective health.
We conclude this brief introduction on the Mediterranean Diet by remembering that, repeating the Keys study, today it would NOT bring the same results. It is true that Mediterranean countries are STILL less affected by overweight and metabolic diseases, at least than Americans, but it is also necessary to remember that, with GLOBALIZATION, the gap between the two cultures is slowly fading. Some of the populations who, in the middle of the last century, followed the true Mediterranean Diet, now make abundant and immoderate use of junk foods such as hamburgers, fried potatoes, giant pizzas, super-stuffed sandwiches, ice creams, sugary drinks, spirits, etc. much healthier: raw cereals, legumes, seasonal vegetables, seasonal fruit, poor fish, white meats and "a drop" of red wine.
I invite you to listen to the next lesson on the Mediterranean Diet which will deal in DETAIL the health benefits that can be derived from it.