First publicised as one of the healthiest diets by an American doctor stationed in Italy during World War II, the Mediterranean diet became celebrated after the publication of a study by Harvard University in 1995. Researchers continue to study the Mediterranean diet in order to unravel and understand the science behind it.
This traditional diet, native to the countries of the Mediterranean area, is characterised by a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts, moderately high consumption of fish, moderate-to-low consumption of dairy products, low consumption of red meat and meat products, with olive oil as the principal source of fat. The moderate and daily intake of wine, usually red, during meals is also integral to the Mediterranean diet.
Previous research studies have found a positive association between sticking closely to this kind of eating regimen and increasing life expectancy, as well as lowering the risk of debilitating diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and dementias such as and Alzheimer's disease.
The importance of Mediterranean diet was recognized by UNESCO in 2011 as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.