The first publications referring to the Mediterranean diet as being heart healthy came from the Seven Countries Study, under the leadership of Ancel Keys. During 1958-1964, health surveys were conducted in several regions around the world. Participants were subsequently followed with regard to cardiovascular mortality. It was observed that coronary death rates in Southern Europe were much lower than in Northern Europe and the United States, even when controlled for age, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, smoking, physical activity, and weight. The investigators therefore attributed the lower rates to eating patterns.
While there are few, if any, countries around the Mediterranean Sea that adheres to this diet, the term ‘’Mediterranean diet’’ has become a term used for a heart-healthy eating pattern combining elements of Mediterranean-style cooking. The recommended diet includes high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate to high consumption of fish, low consumption of meat and meat products, and moderate wine consumption (Wikipedia).
A meta analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases (Sofi et al, 2008). Healthy adults are therefore encouraged to adapt this style of eating for the prevention of major chronic diseases.This session will explore these issues further on Thursday 18 April at 16:30 in Florence lecture room.