The Mediterranean Diet: the basis for nutritional policies

We can find dozens, hundreds, of definitions of the Mediterranean diet on the Internet. We like to relate this concept, rather than a nutritional guideline, to a lifestyle that includes both a pattern of consumption of a food group and a form of habits forged over thousands of years as a cultural and generational heritage .
The healthy effects of this lifestyle are more than accredited by hundreds of medical studies that advise the Mediterranean diet against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, obesity, diabetes and even dementia. A turning point from a clinical point of view was the publication of the so-called Predimeda macro medical trial conducted in Spain involving 7,447 volunteers, men and women aged 55 to 80 years with a high risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease but who had not yet developed it.
The main conclusion was that following a traditional Mediterranean Diet, supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds) reduces by 30% the risk of suffering a myocardial infarction, stroke or death from cardiovascular causes.The study was so much better than a diet low in all types of fat (animal and vegetable) that after five years of follow-up, the authors of the study decided to conclude it because the differences in favor of the Mediterranean diet were so evident that following a low-fat diet was a risk for the health of the risk group.

Photo: Mediterranean Diet Foundation
Photo: Mediterranean Diet Foundation

Dr. Ramón Estruch, coordinator of the Predimed study, maintains that the foods that most differentiate the Mediterranean diet from other diets are olive oil, nuts, fish and wine. The reality is that the publication of the study had an extraordinary effect on the revision of nutritional policies worldwide. In this regard, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officially endorsed the Mediterranean diet a few years ago and included the guidelines of the Predimed study in its nutritional guidelines.
Since 2011, the U.S. has been the world’s largest consumer of wine, with 31.8 million hectoliters in 2016, followed by France (27 million), Italy (22.5), Germany (19.5) and China (17.3). The Mediterranean diet, and wine, are causing a furor in the USA with the arrival of new young consumers, while in Spain we are gradually abandoning this diet so typical of previous generations and, of course, we are not getting ahead of ourselves in terms of wine consumption either.
Perhaps if this ‘fashion’ continues to spread throughout the world we will be able to revalue something as genuine and as ours as the Mediterranean diet.

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