The traditional Mediterranean diet eating patterns from the Greek Island Crete, Greece, southern Italy, and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, have inspired the Mediterranean Diet as we know it. Although it picked up in popularity in the 1990s, it is based on research publicized by the American doctor Ancel Keys in 1945.
The research reveals that although people in the Mediterranean region consumed relatively large amounts of fat, they suffered from lower rates of cardiovascular disease than in the United States, where people consumed similar amounts of fat.
The difference is in the kind of fat being consumed. Animal fat is the source of fat used in the American diet compared to olive oil largely used as a source of fat in the Mediterranean Diet. Olive oil lowers cholesterol levels in the blood, and is known to lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
There are many variations of the Mediterranean Diet throughout the Mediterranean region. Traditionally the diet exists in the countries around the Mediterranean basin such as Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Greece, North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, and Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon, Syria, and Israel. Common to all of these diets are lots of vegetables and fruits, whole wheat bread and cereals, cheese and yogurt, nuts, olive oil, fish, rice, beans and other legumes, red wine, and very little meat. These foods are low in cholesterol and are considered the healthiest nutritional sources.
I can just imagine the people who lived mostly in the country growing their own food and washing it down with a glass of wine. Later they would walk to the next village to visit family or friends. The Mediterranean Diet was part of their routine and they didn’t even have to think about it. Modern times have not skipped the Mediterranean region, and many changes have taken place in people’s dietary patterns. These changes have brought processed and fast food into their lives and altered the traditional Mediterranean Diet.
Today people in the Mediterranean region are being exposed to new habits, everything is faster end easier. People are driving more and walking less, they buy their bread as oppose to baking it themselves. They don’t grow their fruits and vegetables, or make their own wine and olive oil.
These new habits increase the likelihood of higher rates of cardiovascular disease, cholesterol levels in the blood, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels.