Lebanese Traditional Diets and Health Effects
Lebanon is a highly urbanized Mediterranean country, characterized by its healthy traditional cuisine. With some exceptions related to sugar, sweeteners, and cereals, Lebanese food consumption is comparable with many northern Mediterranean countries. It is a collection of minimally processed vegetarian recipes, in addition to an abundance of fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and nuts. Olive oil is the principle fat used, replacing other sources, in addition to many other ingredients including wild edible plants, lemon, garlic and mint.
With modernization and development, consumer tastes and demands have had implications on the traditional Lebanese foods and dietary habits. Some changes occurred to the ingredients used and to the percent contribution of macronutrients to energy intake. Recent studies on food consumption patterns of the Lebanese young and adult population showed a shift in the food consumed toward increased intake of fat, milk, and animal protein and decreased intake of whole wheat bread and cereals. It seems that the Lebanese Mediterranean diet is converging with a pattern high in saturated fat, sugar, and refined foods and is low in fiber. Such a Westernized dietary pattern is associated with the increased risk of non communicable diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
Although the present Lebanese dietary habit has retained many of its Mediterranean characteristics, however, a duality is appearing between modernization and the strong adherence to culture and tradition.
Key WordsLebanon traditional diet health
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