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Glossary of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is a substantial food model, which maintains good health and improves quality of life; it also plays a role in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases. "The Mediterranean diet mainly consists of plant-based foods: there are different types of pasta, in season vegetables, dressed with olive oil, often some cheese, all completed with fruit and a moderate consumption of wine" (Ancel Keys, 1995). 

The guidelines for a healthy and correct Italian diet (revision of 2003), which have the task of directing individuals toward a nutritional goal, suggest that the consumption of fruit and vegetables guarantees an intake of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Simultaneously helping to reduce the energetic density of the diet by the high percentage of water and the satiating action of dietary fiber. There is a wide choice of fruit and vegetables available in every season, and it is favorable that they are always present in abundance at the table, starting from breakfast to snacks outside of regular meals. The eating habits of the Mediterranean people have become progressively enriched with foods high in protein, saturated fat and sugars, exceeding the necessary supply of nutrients.

In order to guide people toward healthier eating habits, the Ministry of Health has appointed a group of experts the task of developing a dietary model as a point of reference coherent with today’s lifestyle and with the Italian food traditions. The weekly Italian lifestyle pyramid was created based on the definition of Quantity Wellness (QW), referring to both food and physical activity. From this model the daily food pyramid was composed, indicating the portions that should be consumed from each food group, so that our food intake is varied and balanced. Therefore, the QW of food and movement, if properly adapted to the needs of the individual, can lead to a balance between food intake and energy output; preventing weight issues such as obesity that predisposes the body to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

Farmhouse

Farmhouse

The farm is the place that combines rural tourism and environmental sustainability, where you can experience the Mediterranean Diet. The agritourisms, especially the organic ones, operate in respect of the environment and the conservation of the natural landscape, contribute to the recovery of the rural territory and its traditions and promote a restaurant based on healthy and seasonal foods, typical of the Mediterranean Diet.

Physical Activity

Physical Activity

Physical activity is a fundamental aspect of the Mediterranean Diet, so much so that it is included at the base of the new food pyramid proposed by INRAN (National Institute for the Research of Food and Nutrition).

A balanced diet must be backed up with physical activity such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, or going up and down stairs, for at least 30 minutes per day and for at least five days a week. In addition to helping maintain body weight, physical activity helps prevent many illnesses caused by a non-active lifestyle (obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis).

Biodiversity

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of living beings that populate the Earth, and is measured at the level of genes, species, populations and ecosystems. This variety not only refers to the shape and structure of living beings, but also includes diversity understood as abundance, distribution and interaction between the different components of the system. Thanks to the different sowing according to the areas and the rotation of the crops, the Mediterranean Diet respects biodiversity and the territory, ensuring a balance between man and nature and ...

Cereals

Cereals

A privileged place in the Mediterranean Diet is occupied by cereals, which together with vegetables and fruit occupy the base of the food pyramid. To the group of cereals belong rice, corn, barley, spelled and wheat. The latter, in particular, is common to all the populations of the Mediterranean, since it constitutes the raw material of foods such as pasta, bread, cous-cous and burghul. Cereals are mostly a source of complex carbohydrates and the ideal would be to consume whole ones, as the refining process impoverishes them ...

Community

Community

Communities, as defined in the UNESCO Convention of the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2003, and the relative operational guidelines, are collectively the communities, groups, and where appropriate individuals, that are actively involved in the management, creation, maintenance, and transmission of the cultural heritage.

Emblematic Communities

Emblematic Communities

“Emblematic communities” are social groups locally defined as representatives of universal values declared by the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, in particular responsible for the safeguarding and promotion of the element.

Due to historical, scientific or qualitative reasons, these communities employ a particular significance together with the national communities of the seven nominated States (Italy, Spain, Greece, Morocco, Portugal, Croatia and Cyprus), and establish a substantial part of their identity and continuity through the Mediterranean diet, intended as a lifestyle (from Greek diaita).

Conviviality

Conviviality

Conviviality, the pleasure of spending time with others, is one of the fundamental elements of the Mediterranean diet, so much so that it was put at the base of the “new food pyramid” proposed by INRAN (Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca degli Alimenti e della Nutrizione).

Meals have become a significant ritual and taken on a symbolic value amongst people of the Mediterranean. Thanks to the concept of eating together, in addition to nourishment, the cultural foundations of interpersonal relationships are reinforced, guaranteeing identity, and social and cultural continuity, both for the individuals that make up communities, and the communities as a whole.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Cooking or cuisine has a precise meaning within social norms.  

Mediterranean cuisine represents the fundamental place where gestures, uses and customs that belong to tradition are recovered, without giving up on experimenting with creativity. Both an application and an artistic re-elaboration of tradition are carried out between the stoves: thanks to the culture of the Mediterranean Diet, the kitchen is the place where raw materials enter and complex dishes come out, which are much more than the simple sum of the individual components. Another essential element in the kitchen is intergenerational dialogue, ...

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet

The "Mediterranean Diet" is a social practice based on a set of skills, knowledge and traditions that range from landscape to table and which concern, in the Mediterranean basin, cultures, crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation, cooking and above all the methods of consuming the meal. This body of knowledge is associated with the rhythm of a seasonal calendar characterized by nature and related religious or ritual meanings. The Mediterranean Diet as a lifestyle, ...

Sustainable Diet

Sustainable Diet

The Mediterranean Diet, in addition to being healthy for people, is also healthy for the environment. The food model adopted by the peoples of the Mediterranean basin is in fact recognized as a sustainable model since, being mainly based on vegetables and cereals, it has a low environmental impact. The Mediterranean Diet, preferring mostly fresh local and seasonal products prepared according to traditional recipes, reduces greenhouse crops and the related environmental impacts; respects biodiversity through the rotation of ...

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the principal foods that make up the Mediterranean diet, characterized mainly by the consumption of plant-based foods.

According to the food pyramid, it is advisable to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, ranging from breakfast to the snacks between meals. The consumption of fruit and vegetables guarantees a correct intake of vitamins and minerals, while reducing one’s calorie count. Furthermore, fruit and vegetables are a great source of water, while the fiber intake has a filling effect. It is important to choose fruit and vegetables that are in season, to limit the risk of consuming harmful substances used in agriculture, as well as contributing to the preservation of biodiversity.

Dried Fruit

Dried Fruit

In addition to the Mediterranean diet being based on large quantities of dried fruit, it is advised to consume dried fruit daily.

Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, and pine nuts have little water content, moderate protein content, little sugar and a substantial quantity of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly beneficial as a source of omega-3 and omega-6. Dried fruit has a high calorific value and is therefore recommended in regular but small quantities.

Social Function

Social Function

Beyond the mere nutritional aspect, a meal is a strong social factor in itself.

Dating back to the history of Mediterranean populations, sitting together around a table has always represented, and continues to represent a moment of assertion and restoration in the family and the community, of the respective history, setting, symbols, values and beliefs. Traditions and expressions are transmitted orally from one generation to the next during a banquet, in which the social function consists of continuously reinvigorating relationships between people that possess knowledge and those that learn it.

Dairy Products

Dairy Products

Milk and products that originate from milk are the most important animal based products in the Mediterranean diet, and according to the food pyramid, should be consumed on a daily basis.

Milk, and consequently dairy products are in fact an excellent source of protein, minerals and vitamins.

Mediterranean

Mediterranean

Ever since ancient times the Mediterranean Sea has been the birthplace and home to civilization and cultures, which have prospered on its shores.

From the Phoenicians up until the Ancient Greeks, from the Roman Empire to nowadays, the communities of the Mare Nostrum have developed practices, knowledge, skills, identity and communal traditions in the world of craftsmanship, fishing and agriculture. Dating back to ancient times, cereals, olive trees, grapevines, fruit and vegetables have been cultivated on the Mediterranean land, cultivation and activities that shape the territory, conserving and safeguarding it in its biological and cultural diversity. The Mediterranean people have always acquired the food for their tables from these products, that not only represent a source of sustenance but also a priceless cultural heritage of the transmission of know-how, values and traditions.

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mipaaf createsMeddiet - The portal of the Mediterranean Diet "is a project of the University of Rome Unitelma Sapienza, made with cAttribute of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies - Ministerial Decree no. 93824 of 30 December 2014 and updated in 2018 in collaboration with CREA - Research Center for Food and Nutrition.

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