The Mediterranean diet: the reasons for a success

Thromb Res. 2012 Mar;129(3):401-4. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2011.10.018. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


There is a substantial body of evidence linking Mediterranean Diet to cardiovascular risk reduction and prevention of the major chronic diseases. Nevertheless Mediterranean societies are rapidly withdrawing from this eating pattern orienting their food choices toward products typical of the Western diet pattern, which is rich in refined grains, animal fats, sugars, processed meat but are quite poor in legumes, cereals, fruits and vegetables. The reasons people keep on shifting from healthy to unhealthy dietary habits remain open to several interpretations. Social changes appear to have consistently contributed to radical reversal in dietary habits in European Mediterranean societies even though developing Countries are somewhat turning into westernized diets as well. Among possible causes, increasing prices of some of the major food items of Mediterranean pyramid seem to have led people to give up this eating pattern in favor of less expensive products which allow to save money but are definitively unhealthy. Many studies suggest that diet quality follows a socio-economic gradient highlighting how disadvantaged people present higher rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. Recent studies have shown a linear relationship between food cost and adherence to eating patterns and obesity. In addition to financial crisis, during the last decades the Mediterranean Diet has been put on the spot because of its alcohol -in- moderation component. Does it make any sense to blame a whole philosophy, which turned out to have beneficial effects on human health, just because, in some Countries, there is a misuse of alcoholic beverages?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / economics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Mediterranean* / economics
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Socioeconomic Factors