The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid – Still relevant 2 decades later

MedPyramid_612x792This past week marked the 22nd anniversary of the introduction of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid by the Boston-based think tank, Oldways.  The introduction of the pyramid took place in the midst of fat phobia. The pyramid  was a model of healthy eating based upon the traditional eating pattern which included healthy fats.

Healthy fats? Olive oil?

It seemed like a very radical idea at the time.  On this side of the Atlantic, olive oil was almost exclusively  found   only in the pantries of those who hailed from the Mediterranean region.  But a group of  visionaries had the foresight  to look at this  traditional  healthy eating pattern and Oldways was born.  The group then teamed up with the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center at the Harvard School of Public Health to document healthier alternatives grounded in traditional diets.

So began our love affair with  Mediterranean fare.

The collaboration  also spurred scientific research on just how beneficial this food style is. While the original study showing the  Med diet’s heart health benefits by scientist Ancel Keys  was published in 1970,  researchers didn’t pay much attention until  the Oldways collaboration in the 1990s. Only a handful of studies were published on the topic between the 1970s and the 90s.

Since the release of the pyramid,  there have been thousands of scientific investigations showing the protective effect of this traditional eating pattern against a very long list of ills. Heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s and  a growing list of certain cancers are just a few examples.

Meanwhile the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction from those fat phobic days to eating patterns with little scientific evidence backing them up.

The Mediterranean diet is also linked to longevity, something lacking with many of today’s current popular eating patterns.

For regular updates on the Mediterranean Diet, sign up for  Fresh Fridays, Oldways bi-weekly e-newsletter which celebrates the Mediterranean Diet and its remarkable health benefits.

Are you a fan of the Mediterranean Diet? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Categories: Nutrition News, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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