The problem with the Mediterranean Diet that we do not talk about enough

Most of you are probably familiar with the Mediterranean Diet and that it is classified as the healthiest diet. Numerous studies have also linked it to a lower risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as a lower risk of premature death.

But while there are many benefits to it Mediterranean diet, there is also a big problem that we do not talk about enough. This diet is based on the traditional dietary standards of the European Mediterranean countries, but excludes the traditional cuisines of many other nations.

Moreover, its current interpretation is not as flexible or accessible as it seems to be, as it relies heavily on foods that are inaccessible to many.

The Mediterranean Diet is not representative of the entire Mediterranean region.

There are 21 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Slovenia, Slovenia, and Turkey.

However, the Mediterranean Diet is based mainly on the traditional cuisines of Italy, Greece, Spain and southern France, with the exception of those in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The reason for this can be found in the Seven Countries Study. From 1952 to 1957, American researcher Ancel Keys conducted informal, exploratory studies in seven countries: Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Finland, Japan, and the United States.

The researchers studied dietary patterns in each of these countries and measured rates of heart disease, diabetes and risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.

Eventually, Keys and his team concluded that dietary patterns in Italy and Greece were associated with lower rates of heart disease and mortality than in other countries. So Keys began promoting this diet for better health and a lower risk of disease.

Today, experts are quick to criticize Keys’s research methods. A recent article published in the Journal of Critical Dietetics points out that the study only collected data from men and that, with the exception of Japan, it consisted mainly of white people.

The reason that non-European cuisines are not part of the Mediterranean Diet is not that they are less nutritious, but that these countries were not included in the Seven Countries Study.

Overall, experts agree that the Mediterranean Diet is nutritious. Emphasizes whole foods of plant origin (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains), lean proteins and unsaturated fats.

But mentioning only the cuisines of Italy, Greece, Spain and France is not necessarily useful. To say that one region eats healthy means that other countries do not follow a healthy diet but their food is not healthy either. And this conclusion may stigmatize other populations.

The true Mediterranean diet goes far beyond basic European foods such as fish and olive oil. . Each country and / or cultural group in the Mediterranean region has its own unique food culture and preferences. Also we should not talk only about European countries, but also the countries of Africa and the Middle East.

The basic principles of the Mediterranean Diet can be applied to any cultural cuisine

It is important to make the Mediterranean Diet more sustainable and realistic. Because based on this diet if for example one does not consume seafood or olives, the way one eats is not healthy and sustainable.

Likewise, if one does not have the financial means to constantly eat the basic Mediterranean products, one may be discouraged and feel that a healthy diet is inaccessible.

On the other hand, the focus on general standards of the Mediterranean Diet, such as the consumption of many plant foods and the choice of unsaturated fats over saturated ones, makes it more flexible and adaptable.

Every food culture contains vegetables, fruits and cereals. Adding more of these foods to your diet is beneficial and there are ways to do it without thinking that your particular inheritance is wrong because it is not mentioned in the Seven Countries Study.

Just because you do not eat fish and olive oil every night does not mean that your eating habits are not nutritious or that you can not reap the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.


The Mediterranean Diet is indeed nutritious and promotes health, but its focus on European cuisines precludes many other cultural foods that are equally nutritious.

Having flexibility in any eating pattern is important. So instead of trying to follow the Mediterranean Diet literally, try to eat lots of plant foods and choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats.

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