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Nutr Rev. 1997 Nov;55(11 Pt 1):383-9.

Healthy traditional Mediterranean diet: an expression of culture, history, and lifestyle.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition and Biochemistry, National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece.


The term Mediterranean diet refers to dietary patterns found in olive-growing areas of the Mediterranean region and described in the 1960s and beyond. There are several variants of the Mediterranean diet, but some common components can be identified: high monounsaturated/saturated fat ratio; ethanol consumption at moderate levels and mainly in the form of wine; high consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains; moderate consumption of milk and dairy products, mostly in the form of cheese; and low consumption of meat and meat products. Growing evidence demonstrates that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial to health; the evidence is stronger for coronary heart disease, but it also applies to some forms of cancer. Results from recent investigations provide a strong biomedical foundation for the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet.

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