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Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
29 July 2014 @ 18:00

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid continues to be a well-known guide to what is now universally recognized as the “gold standard” eating pattern that promotes lifelong good health. It has been widely used for years by consumers, educators, and health professionals alike to implement healthier eating habits.

It represents the optimal, traditional Mediterranean diet, is based on the dietary traditions of Crete and southern Italy in the 1960s at a time when the rates of chronic disease among populations there were among the lowest in the world, and adult life expectancy was among the highest even though medical services were limited.

The key to this longevity is a diet that successfully resisted the last 50 years of “modernizing” foods and drinks in industrialized countries. These "modern" trends led to more meat (mostly beef) and other animal products, fewer fresh fruits and vegetables, and more processed convenience foods. Ironically, this recent diet of “prosperity and modernization” was responsible for burgeoning rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. So The “poor” diet of the people of the southern Mediterranean  is clearly a healthier option, consisting mainly of fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of dairy, and red wine, proved to be much more likely to lead to lifelong good health.

 The diet pyramid is structured in the light of nutrition research carried out in 1993 and presented by Professor Walter Willet during the 1993 International Conference on the Diets of the Mediterranean, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

It underlines the importance of the foods making up the principal food groups. Each of these individual food groups offers some, but not all, of the nutrients one needs. Food from one group cannot replace that of another group. All the groups are necessary for a healthy diet. 

The basic products of the Mediterranean diet, in descending order of  recommended quantity and frequency,  are:

These form the base of the majority of meals in Mediterranean countries - bread (wholemeal or otherwise), pasta, couscous and rice.


Meals are more flavoursome when in-season products are selected and they are cooked very simply. In the Mediterranean countries the dessert is generally fruit.

A wide variety of legumes and nuts, such as chickpeas, lentils, haricot beans, pine kernels, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc. are used in cooking.

"Olive oil" and "Virgin olive oil" are used throughout the Mediterranean. The former is normally used for cooking. The latter, which is appropriate for all uses, is excellent when consumed raw to best appreciate its aroma and flavour and to benefit fully from all its natural components.

The proportion of fats in the traditional diet of Crete observed by Professor Ancel Keys, was >40% kcal/day of which 8% were saturated fats, 3% polyunsaturated and 29% monounsaturated (olive oil).


Cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products, with no special mention of milk. FISH Offered as a first class protein, before eggs and poultry.

The highest point of the Pyramid, meaning that its consumption is least advised, is occupied by red meat and just slightly below, but also of little importance, are sweets and pastries.

Regular physical activity and proper hydration are vital to maintaining good health and optimal weight.Wine can be consumed in moderation, primarily with meals (1-2 glasses/day). It is optional and should be avoided whenever it puts the individuals or others at risk.

Like 0


casalinda said:
01 August 2014 @ 22:39

It's interesting that up in the Alpujarras there is a very high incidence of Type 2 Diabetes, especially in the over-60s, who you would imagine have eaten a 'superMediterranean' diet during the past 50 years. Very little foods were consumed that were not locally-grown and seasonal.
In addition, I have heard that the cancer levels in Andalucía are higher than other parts of Spain...too many cigarettes perhaps, but diet must be involved too.
And what about genetic influences? Time to move on from this rather limiting analysis of what is good for us?

mac75 said:
01 August 2014 @ 22:56

Diet is not directly related to type 2 diabetes or cancer. The types of food you eat do not actually cause diabetes, what you choose to eat is directly related to your health and your weight. If your diet is high in calories and unhealthy foods (sugar, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fats), your diet could be contributing to your diabetes risk. The Mediterranean diet is without doubt the diet to be following, but al with everything, balanced and in moderation. That has been one of the problems with the Spanish elderly, eating too much and too little exercise.

baldilocks said:
02 August 2014 @ 10:55

Longevity in the Mediterranean regions is not just down to diet, stress reduction plays a very big part. The so-called "mañana" attitude is not the case of "put off till tomorrow" that outsiders think it is, but an attitude of "is really worth getting that worked up about?" Northern Europeans live their lives with high stress levels, Southern Europeans live with much lower stress levels and live longer as a result.

ceejayblue said:
02 August 2014 @ 11:01

As a type 2 diabetic, and someone who loves food and the mediterranean diet, I am concerned that the pyramid has so much carbohydrate in the bottom layer that you must eat daily. Carbs are the main problem for diabetics (Type 1 and 2) as they turn to glucose in the body and therefore raise our blood glucose levels. We have to be careful just how much carbs we eat.

I was also surprised to see sweets recommended a few times a week! Now whilst there is no specific diabetic diet (just proper healthy eating and limited processed foods works for me), sweets are treats for most of us and would need to be counted into our carb allowance.

As Mac75 says, whether it be the mediterranean diet or any other diet, moderation is the key coupled with exercise of some kind.

herbalist36 said:
03 August 2014 @ 08:53

Diet is so much part of cancer Mac75, that the world health organization estimates that 50% of cancers could be prevented with proper nutrition

Falcón said:
08 October 2016 @ 11:53

This diet is perfect. Also you can drink 1 glass of wine daily because the doctors to say that it is good for heart.

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