The Mediterranean Diet: A History of Health

By Altomare, Roberta; Cacciabaudo, Francesco et al. | Iranian Journal of Public Health, May 2013 | Go to article overview

The Mediterranean Diet: A History of Health


Altomare, Roberta, Cacciabaudo, Francesco, Damiano, Giuseppe, Palumbo, Vincenzo Davide, Gioviale, Maria Concetta, Bellavia, Maurizio, Tomasello, Giovanni, Lo Monte, Attilio Ignazio, Iranian Journal of Public Health


Abstract

The Mediterranean tradition offers a cousine rich in colors, aromas and memories, which support the taste and the spirit of those who live in harmony with nature. Everyone is talking about the Mediterranean diet, but few are those who do it properly, thus generating a lot of confusion in the reader. And so for some it coincides with the pizza, others identified it with the noodles with meat sauce, in a mixture of pseudo historical traditions and folklore that do not help to solve the question that is at the basis of any diet: combine and balance the food so as to satisfy the qualitative and quantitative needs of an individual and in a sense, preserves his health through the use of substances that help the body to perform normal vital functions. The purpose of our work is to demonstrate that the combination of taste and health is a goal that can be absolutely carried out by everybody, despite those who believe that only a generous caloric intake can guarantee the goodness of a dish and the satisfaction of the consumers. That should not be an absolute novelty, since the sound traditions of the Mediterranean cuisine we have used for some time in a wide variety of tasty gastronomic choices, from inviting colors and strong scents and absolutely in line with health.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet, Food pyramid, Obesity, Cardiovascular disease

Introduction

Models of nutrition in the Mediterranean: his-tory, territories, traditions and curiosities

The Mediterranean diet has its origins in a portion of land considered unique in its kind, the Mediterranean basin, which historians call "the cradle of society", because within its geographical borders the whole history of the ancient world took place.

At its banks stretched the valley of the Nile, the site of an ancient and advanced civilization, and the two great basins of the Tigris and Euphrates, which were the environment of the civilization of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Per-sians. In the Mediterranean region arose the power of the Cretans, then emerged the Phoeni-cians and the learned Greeks up to the emerging power of Rome, which allowed the territory to become the "good land" between the East and the West. From that time, the Mediterranean became the meeting place of people who, with their con-tacts, have from time to time modified cultures, customs, languages, religions and ways of thinking about transforming and changing lifestyle with the progress of history. The clash of these two cul-tures produced their partial integration so even the eating habits merged in part (1).

The origins of the "Mediterranean Diet" are lost in time because they sink into the eating habits of the Middle Ages, in which the ancient Roman tradition - on the model of the Greek - identified in bread, wine and oil products a symbol of rural culture and agricultural (and symbols elected of the new faith), supplemented by sheep cheese, vegetables (leeks, mallow, lettuce, chicory, mu-shrooms), little meat and a strong preference for fish and seafood (of which ancient Rome was very gluttonous) (2). The rich classes loved the fresh fish (who ate mostly fried in olive oil or grilled) and seafood, especially oysters, eating raw or fried. Slaves of Rome, however, was destined poor food consists of bread and half a pound of olives and olive oil a month, with some salted fish, rarely a little meat. The Roman tradition soon clashed with the style of food imported from the culture of the Germanic peoples, mainly nomads, living in close harmony with the forest, derived from the same, with hunting, farming and gathering, most of the food resources. Raised pigs of fat, widely used in the kitchen, and grew vegetables in small gardens close to the camps. The few grains grown were not used to make bread, but beer. The clash of these two cultures produced their partial integration so even the eating habits merged in part. However, the Roman culture showed itself unwilling to change the style of "Mediterranean" of feeding with that barbaric. …

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