Updated on March 12, 2017
March 12, 2017
Dr. Ancel Keys discovered the Mediterranean Diet and its benefits
(Photo: Front Page of Times: Dr. Ancel Keys, father of the Mediterranean Diet)
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To FAQ 1. ¿Who invented the Mediterranean Diet?
FAQ 2. Who discovered the Mediterranean Diet?
Dr. Ancel Keys was who discovered the Mediterranean Diet. He worked at the School of Public Health of the University of Minnesota, and published in 1970 the results of an important study developed in seven countries in which he analyzed the role of the diet in the cardiovascular diseases, establishing the bases of what would be later the Mediterranean Diet.
The research was carried out with more than 12,000 men of Finland, Greece, Italy, Japan, Holland, the United States and Yugoslavia. There were high correlations between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet of the people, their cholesterol levels and its percentage of death from cardiovascular diseases. Of these seven nations, the United States and Finland had the highest animal product consumption, the highest saturated fat intake, the highest cholesterol consumption and the highest percentage of death from cardiovascular diseases. On the contrary, the Mediterranean countries and Japan were in the opposite pole.
Dr. Keys, who discovered the Mediterranean Diet, in Madrid.
Before that, in 1952, invited by Dr. Carlos Jiménez Díaz, Dr. Keys had spent some time in Madrid. In that one occasion was lodged in the Residence of Students and, with some important collaborators, among which was Grande Covián, developed a first study relating the diet (still was not known as Mediterranean Diet) and the values of cholesterol in the blood. It carried out an analysis between the inhabitants of Vallecas and Cuatro Caminos (two Madrid districts).
The citizens of these districts almost did not drink milk nor consumed meat or butter, and they had the lowest values of cholesterol in the area, presenting – in addition – very low incidences of coronary cardiopathies. The inhabitants of the district of Salamanca, nevertheless, with a much more rich diet in saturated fat, had much higher values of cholesterol. And among them, the cases of myocardium infarct were much more frequent. In Naples he carried out observations with similar results.
The Seven Countries Study.
Coming back to the famous” The Seven Countries Study”, one of the most important discoveries was that the inhabitants of Crete, which obtained more from 40% of his calories from fat consumption, displayed the lowest cholesterol index and associated diseases. In the Greek island, the percentage of deaths for this reason was 57 times smaller than in Finland. That is what would give later name to the Mediterranean Diet.
Most of the Greek fat intakes proceed from olive oil and olives and, the rest, from cereals, vegetables and generally “blue fish”, with something of meat and derivatives. In addition, they drank wine every day. This is the genuine Mediterranean Diet, almost identical to the diet of many others Mediterranean countries at that time.
Japan was the second country with lower index of deaths from cardiovascular diseases, due to a large extent to a diet with great amounts of fish, Anyway, the negative aspect was that they had a high rate of deaths by cerebral hemorrhage. The same phenomenon presented some ethnic groups, like the Eskimos.
FAQ 3. Who gave name to the Mediterranean Diet?
In 1993, the Oldways organization, the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization introduced the concept of Mediterranean Diet, in a conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts and defined it as “a delicious, pleasurable, and very healthful way to eat” (Oldways).
Olways leaded the project and created as well the famous and wide world know Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. Its most important feature is all plant foods are grouped together to highlight the health benefits that they grant.
Later and the in the same decade (about 1950), Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University’s School of Public Health promoted the Mediterranean Diet explaining it in a very understandable way.
Hereafter, the Mediterranean Diet became world-wide known as a heart protector and long life dietary pattern.
Recently has been discovered some other benefits of The Mediterranean Diet in other diseases as cancer, Alzheimer, asthma, hyperglycemia, etc. It is also an excellent source of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory products.