The Mediterranean diet is a nutritional model inspired by the popular eating patterns in some Mediterranean countries (such as Italy and Greece) in the fifties of the twentieth century. It is based on foods traditionally consumed in these countries including, for example, cereals, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, meat, fish and dairy products. The concept of the Mediterranean diet was introduced and initially studied by the US physiologist Ancel Keys, who has demonstrated the beneficial effects on longevity and health in the legendary Seven Country Study
The concept of a Mediterranean diet was developed to reflect "food patterns typical of Crete, much of the rest of Greece, and southern Italy in the early 1960s". Although it was first publicized in 1975 by the American biologist Ancel Keys and chemist Margaret Keys (his wife and collaborator), the Mediterranean diet failed to gain widespread recognition until the 1990s. Objective data showing that Mediterranean diet is healthful originated from results of epidemiological studies in Naples and Madrid confirmed later by the Seven Countries Study, with first publication in 1970,and a book-length report in 1980.The most commonly understood version of the Mediterranean diet was presented, among others, by Walter Willett of Harvard University's School of Public Health from the mid-1990s on
The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional model studied, for the first time in a systematic way, epidemiologist and US physiologist Ancel Keys in some Mediterranean countries in the fifties, in a situation of severe economic difficulties and resource constraints due World war II . These conditions, associated with a low level of technology, favored a lifestyle physically active and frugal, with a predominance of plant products and shortages of animal products in the diet.