Traditional diets are known to be beneficial; however, both Italian and Mexican populations are gradually moving away from the Mediterranean and traditional Mexican diets. Since women play a key role in safeguarding dietary traditions and may reflect population dietary changes, we aimed to identify Italian and Mexican women’s current dietary patterns (DPs) and characterize their nutrient content. Cross-sectional analyses were separately conducted on two convenience samples of 811 women from Southern Italy and 215 women from Western Mexico. Food frequency questionnaires, 24 h recalls, and a principal component analysis (PCA) approach were used to derive a posteriori DPs. In Italian women, the first DP was characterized by the consumption of legumes, vegetables, and fish (8.8% of the total variance), while the second DP was characterized by snack foods, processed meats, and non-olive oils. In Mexican women, the first DP was characterized by the consumption of meats and processed foods (12.6% of the total variance), while the second DP by fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In both populations, adhering to the DPs rich in healthy foods (i.e., fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish) was associated with a higher quality of diet in terms on nutrient content. However, adherence to the Western-type DPs was more common among women of younger age (p < 0.035). Thus, more extraordinary efforts are needed in promoting each country’s traditional healthy diet, especially among the new generations.
Keywords: Mediterranean diet; food cultures; nutritional transition; traditional Mexican diet; women.