Origins of the Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Cooking Ingredients

Where does the Mediterranean diet come from?  The diet that most researchers are referring to is the old fashioned diet traditionally followed in southern France, most of Italy, Greece, and Crete, and has echoes across much of the southern Mediterranean in Middle Eastern Cuisine as well.  It is based around a fruit and vegetable heavy diet, with moderate servings of whole grains, and with proteins coming in careful portions of fish, poultry, and beans.  Olive oil is the principal form of cooking and dressing oil,  used instead of butter and other animal fats.  A glass or two of red wine per day is another feature of this diet. 

This is a highly varied diet, and there are multiple cuisines that follow the core values that make this diet healthy.  Its variety is based on season and local produce and fish, and from the different cultures that use those local ingredients.  They eat a wide variety of produce each day, of fruits and vegetables, utilize more whole grains in every day cooking, and eat far more beans, nuts, and seeds than is done in the average American diet.  Olive oil is used as a condiment as well as a cooking medium, and dairy and red meat are used more as seasoning and accent than as main course, and often in very small amounts.  Eggs can be part of the diet, but in some regions, eggs are not a regular part of the diet.

It can be confusing as to how to get started because of the vague explanations of what this diet entails, particularly as it ranges across multiple cuisines.  However, the easy way to get started is to look for lighter and vegetable heavy French or Italian recipes that rely on vegetables for their bulk.  From there it is simply a matter of grocery shopping for fresh food and cooking at home.


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