Mediterranean Diet

Lengthy observations have shown that the populations of the Mediterranean are characterized by longer and better quality of life compared to people from other countries. This remark caused the scientific community to investigate the reliability and so there were various epidemiological studies with emphasis on cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

In these studies the Mediterranean eating pattern was investigated – a common trait of Mediterranean populations-in relation to various health indicators and proved that it justifiably holds the top position among all dietary models. The key features of the Mediterranean diet is (according to the Italian National Research Council 11-4-1997):
-Plenty of natural fibers from bread, vegetables, legumes and fruit.
-Olive oil as a basic source of fats on a daily basis
-Middle to low consumption of fish, poultry, dairy and eggs
-Low consumption of red meat
-Wine during the meal

Indicatively and in brief, it is worth mentioning some of the set of existing studies concerning the Mediterranean diet.
The most famous of all is "the study of seven countries" held in the 1950s and 1960s which studied a sample of 12,500 people from the seven following regions: Greece (Crete-Corfu), Dalmatian coast, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, Japan and the United States.

The main conclusions of the study, in summary, are stated as follows:
"All the countries that participated in the study have:
a) much lower mortality from cardiovascular diseases
b) significantly lower mortality from cancer and
c) correspondingly low overall mortality in relation to the rest of the sample”.

Another important and more recent survey was conducted in Spain (under the auspices of Mrs. Buckland) and studied a sample of 41.078 healthy adult Hispanics during the period 1992-2004. This study confirms the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and decides that this kind of diet is good for health and gives 40% reduced risk of heart attack to those who followed this diet respectfully compared to those who had little respect for this.
It is also worth mentioning the PREDIMED spanish study which associates the Mediterranean diet with the prevention of type 2 diabetes in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease. In particular it was found that the Mediterranean diet is associated with the reduction of 52% of the diabetes risk compared with low-fat diet.

There are even studies that relate the Mediterranean diet with

a) reduction of the frequency of Alzheimer’s disease,

b) relief of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and with

c) reduction of obesity

In relation to the well known to all Mediterranean diet, the Cretan Diet shows even more remarkable features. Firstly the Cretan diet follows the principles of the Mediterranean diet, it differentiates from it however, since it has a much higher consumption of olive oil, legumes and fruit, and lower consumption of alcohol and bread. The application of the Cretan diet was associated with even greater reduction of:

a) heart disease,
b) total mortality and
c) deaths of different types of cancer compared to the other Mediterranean Areas.