Topic 2 The Mediterranean Diet

The nutrients that are found in abundance in the Mediterranean diet have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity properties and contribute together to the maintenance of health status: these effects are mostly due to the combination of antioxidant elements, fiber and polyunsaturated fats.

Nutritional factors Values
  • Total carbohydrates
  • Carbohydrates simple


  • Total dietary fiber
  • 55-75%
  • <10%


  • > 25-30 g/day
  • Total Fat
  • Saturated fatty acids
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids n 3 (PUFA)
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids n 6 (PUFA)


  • Trans fatty acids
  • Cholesterol
  • 15-30%
  • <10%
  • 6-10%
  • 5-8%
  • 1-2%


  • <1%
  • <300 mg/day
  • Proteins
  • 10-15%

Carbohydrates are represented predominantly by starch (cereals and pulses), while the consumption of sugar and sweets is very low.

Fish products and the extra virgin olive oil are mainly responsible for the contribution of fatty acids essential and oleic acid.

Fatty acids ω3 play an important role in the prevention and treatment not only of CVD but also cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and cataract.

The value of this diet lies in its ability to preserve the state of health and improve longevity, as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared in 2010.

Representation of Mediterranean Diet by Paestum Temple Modified By De Lorenzo A, Fidanza F

The Okinawan Diet: a similar nutritional model

  • On the island of Okinawa, Japan, there is the highest number of centenarians and over-centenarians in the world.
  • The surprising factor is that at the ripe old age they arrive in an exceptional state of physical and mental health.
  • Cardiovascular diseases are 80% lower than in the United States, tumors are 40% less, even osteoporosis has a lower incidence.
  • Part of the mystery is explained by the fact that they eat little, up to 1100 calories a day, mostly vegetables, lots of fish, rice, soy and kombu seaweed.

The Okinawan Diet

The Okinawan Diet: Health Implications of a Low-Calorie, Nutrient-Dense, Antioxidant-Rich Dietary Pattern Low in Glycemic Load. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2009.