How Did the Mediterranean Diet Come About?
Well, to be honest, there is no such thing as Mediterranean diet. There are just cultural and culinary traditions of peoples living around the Mediterranean Sea.
Much in these traditions is common to all peoples, but there are even more differences in them. Just compare the typical meals in Greece, Morocco, France and Israel, and you will easily see this.
Ok, what is the Mediterranean diet and where did it come from?
The Mediterranean diet was invented in the USA. In 1958, the American physiologist Ancel Benjamin Keys began his famous Seven Countries Study in search of the connection between nutrition and cardiovascular disease.
He was not interested in diet but in the link between the rates of heart attacks and nutritional habits of his fellow citizens, rightly assumed that what they used to eat could not lead to anything good.
Keys has studied the health of middle-aged men in the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Greece, Finland, Japan, the USA and Italy.
Studies involving 12,763 men aged 40 to 59 years continued from 1958 to 1964.
It turned out that that the inhabitants of the Mediterranean, the number of cardiovascular diseases is significantly lower than in all other regions.
Ancel Keys linked this fact to the Mediterranean diet, which was rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, olive oil, fish and seafood.
Based on the results of the study, the scientist wrote the book "How to Eat Right and Stay Healthy the Mediterranean Way."
So Mediterraneans finally learned that what they have been eating for the last few millennia, is called the Mediterranean diet.
Of cource, Keys offered a general, simplified and average option: vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, olive oil, fish, seafood, a small amount of wine, and very moderate consumption of animal fats, including meat and dairy products.
The Mediterranean diet has taken its place among many other diets and our arsenal has been replenished with a new useless tool.
Another book on the shelf that will help to lose a couple of kilos (or a couple of dozen) before beach season.
No, it will not. All diets don't work, and neither will this one.
No, Keys wasn't wrong. Actually he did a great job, once again reminding people of the simple truth: "you are what you eat."
At the same time, he did it very gracefully and romantically: instead of tedious sermons and boring scientific facts, the Americans got a beautiful fairy tale:
“Somewhere far beyond the ocean there is a wonderful Mediterranean. The inhabitants of this country are healthy, slim and beautiful. They are always happy and live up to a hundred years. And the reason for their happiness and longevity is the Mediterranean diet.”
Keys gave us a great opportunity to get healthier but we, as always, screwed everything up. The finger was pointing at the moon, but we were looking at the finger.
Only 40 years after Keys's study, Harvard scientists drew the Mediterranean diet pyramid, in which the foundation is not food, but the lifestyle of Mediterranean peoples.
Yes, without a doubt, a diet rich in vegetables, fish and unsaturated fats (olive oil) is good for your health.
But the Mediterraneans in Ancel Keys study were the healthiest not just because of their diet, but also because they lived the Mediterranean way.
That’s great, but what to do now?
Cross out the word Diet and forget it once and for all.
Instead of Mediterranean Diet, write Mediterranean Lifestyle, and even better - Healthy Lifestyle.
This Sunday your dinner will be grilled sea bream with asparagus, green peppers and organic olive oil Cornicabra. To the vegetables, add a little truffle sauce Tartufata Gourmet. Dessert is baklava and crema Catalana. Sounds good? Wine is obligatory, you can choose it here.
And now the most important thing: you will not eat your dinner alone in front of the TV.
You will cook all this in your yard, in the company of your best friends and all your relatives living in your town.
There must be at least 10 people, not counting children. Lunch will start at 2:00 pm, two hours after you return from the tennis or volleyball court.
You will cook together, set the table, dine, taste wines and discuss the things that are really most important to you all. And of course, no business and politics at the table!
And so it will be every Sunday. This is the first rule of your Mediterranean diet Mediterranean Lifestyle.