The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets: A Guide to Health and Nutrition
M – Z
JACQUELINE L. LONGE, EDITOR
Detroit • New York • San Francisco • New Haven, Conn. • Waterville, Maine • London
The Mediterranean diet is better described as a nutritional model or pattern of food consumption rather than a diet in the usual sense of the word. To begin with, there is more than one Mediterranean diet, if the phrase is understood to refer to the traditional foods and eating patterns found in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Francesco Visioli, a researcher who has edited two books on the subject, prefers the term ’’Mediterranean diets’’ in the plural to reflect the fact that ’’the populations in the Mediterranean area have different cultures, religions, economic prosperity, and [levels of] education, and all these factors have some influence on dietary habits and health.’’ For example, Visioli notes that alcohol intake is very low in the Maghreb (coastal northwestern Africa) because most inhabitants of the region are Muslim, and consequently cereal grains figure more prominently in their diet than in most other Mediterranean countries. In addition, the differences among the various forms of the Mediterranean diet are important in understanding some of the research studies that have been done on it, as will be described more fully below.