The Mediterranean Diet keeps its origins from the history, from the culture and from the lifestyle arrived from the Magna Graecia.
These habits remained strong through the centuries, before the poverty of the Middle Age, when people were forced to eat simple products of the lands and later products of cilentan rustic tradition. Indeed, the Mediterranean Diet has spread out mostly in Cilento, (area of the South of the Campania, currently part of the National Park of Cilento, between the river Sele and the river Aleto). Mediterranean diet is not only a way of eating but also a lifestyle, particularly inherited from the culture of the ancient Greek cities: Paestum and Elea.
The Mediterranean Diet has been studied by Ancel Keys, a well-known American physiologist and nutritionist, who was impressed by the alimentary habits of Cilentan People, discovered when he landed in Paestum in 1944 as a soldier of the fifth Army. The Italian experience made him moved to Cilento after the war, particularly in the small town of Pioppi (Poplar trees) where he improved his resources about the southern alimentation and modern sicknesses of the wellbeing, like hypertension, arteriosclerosis, diabetes and generally all the cardiovascular sicknesses, which come from the bad alimentation.
In the 50s, Doctor Keys came to the idea that low incidence of cardiovascular sicknesses was due to the type of alimentation that these populations were adopting for secular tradition.
Finally, Ancel Keys defined the ideal nutrition as Mediterranean Diet which does not consist of only Spaghetti with Tomato sauce (the most loved Italian dish in the world, from NY to Tokyo, as it is revealed from the Oxfam), but it is made up of 0 Km vegetables, legumes e and white meat, fish and dairies (eaten with moderation), goat cheese and dried fruit.
The secret of the local diet was one: small quantity, high quality. Indeed Keys ate just two dried figs per evening, as it is revealed by Delia Morinelli, the old housekeeper of doc. Keys.
The Mediterranean diet is most of all a Philosophy: the word “diet” comes from the Greek “diaita” which means ‘lifestyle’: no stress, mental equilibrium, healthy varied food. Cilentan people have taken stock Hippocrates’ lesson: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.