Mediterranean diet corresponds so well to the ideal diet, as currently understood by the scientific community, that can be thought of as a gift of the Gods to the people of the Mediterranean basin, or perhaps as a compensation for the many trials and tribulations that the Gods have imposed on them over the centuries. In reality, the traditional Mediterranean diet reflects as much the benigm climate and the flora of the area, as the culture, the hardship and the poverty of the people who were mostly responsible for the formation of this diet.
The realization that the traditional Mediterranean diet is conducive to health and longevity went through several stages, but reached a momentum during the last decade, following three scientific developments in which Greek investigators have made significant contributions. In brief, these developments were the recognition that refined carbohydrates are inferior to unrefined ones, the documentation of the superiority of olive oil among the frequently used added lipids, and the successful operationalization of the traditional Mediterranean diet. In simple terms, Mediterranean diet relies on the high consumption of vegetables, legumes and fruits, on the preference of fish over meat, on the choice of olive oil as added lipid, on the preference of unrefined rather than refined cereals and products, and on the moderate consumption of wine during meals.
Several studies, undertaken in both Mediterranean and other countries, have documented the superiority of the traditional Mediterranean diet, as an integral entity, in the prevention and supportive treatment of coronary heart disease, the prevention of certain malignant neoplasms and, eventually, longevity and quality of life.
Harvard University - University of Athens, Greece