The Mediterranean Diet: What Is It?

  • Maria Daniel Vaz Almeida
  • Salvatore Parisi
  • Amélia Martins Delgado


The Mediterranean basin and the Iberian Peninsula constitute a vast geographical area where three continents intercept. Ancient civilizations characterised by cultural and religious diversity flourished in the region. The Mediterranean diet (MD) represents unity in diversity, integrating food habits with cultural habits (such as the convivial aspects of meals), landscapes (such as the presence of olive orchards and vineyards), and food preservation methods. The concept of the MD was first coined by Ancel Keys, an American physician who highlighted the health benefits of the food pattern of southern Europeans after World War II. The MD is now recognized as one of the most healthy food patterns in the world. This book takes as reference the evolution of the original concept by Ancel Keys, as well as the countries that are currently included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Representative List (Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Croatia and Cyprus), which classifies the MD as an ‘intangible heritage of humanity’. This chapter discusses the origins and primary features of the MD, mainly from a dietary perspective.


Dietary Pattern Mediterranean Diet Food Habit Religious Diversity Food Pattern 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Daniel Vaz Almeida
    • 1
  • Salvatore Parisi
    • 2
  • Amélia Martins Delgado
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Nutrition and Food SciencesUniversity of PortoOportoPortugal
  2. 2.Associazione ‘Componiamo il Futuro’ (CO.I.F.)PalermoItaly
  3. 3.Consultant for Food Safety and NutritionLisbonPortugal

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