Today @ MAND – Goodbye January

January 29th, 2021

Can you believe January is almost over? As we snuggle into our homes with hot chocolate in hand we can dream about warmer weather together. Follow Dana Steinmetz as she takes us to the Mediterranean Sea and explores different variations of the Mediterranean diet.

Regional Variations of the Mediterranean Diet

Images of red wine, olive oil, and fruits and vegetables often come to mind when thinking about the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to have benefits in cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. However, the Mediterranean region spans three continents and 22 countries, which result in regional differences to the diet. Key characteristics between each of these adaptations include the amount and type of fat used, varieties of fruit and vegetables consumed, consumption of whole grains, and the consumption of alcohol. The Mediterranean diet can be broken down into four regional influences:

RegionGrainsVeggiesDairyAlcoholCooking Fat
Western: Spain, France, Italy, and MaltaPasta, bread made from semolina flour, potatoes, riceTomatoes, legumesCheese and butterVery highOlive oil in Italy and Spain, butter in France
Adriatic: Croatia, Bosnia, and AlbaniaBread made from white/wheat flour, moderate amounts of riceOkra, eggplant, and stuffed cabbage are the most common. Not many legumesButtermilk, butter, ricotta, and clotted creamLowMainly clarified butter, very little olive oil
Eastern: Greece, Lebanon Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt  White/wheat bread and rice, bulgur, wheatberriesCabbage leaves, lentils, dried beansCheese and yogurtModerate overall, low in EgyptOlive oil in Greece, clarified butter in Egypt
North African: Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia  Heavy consumption of bread and wheat (more couscous than riceTomatoes, pumpkin, chickpeas, datesModerate intake, typically cheese and buttermilkNoneLarge amounts of olive oil in Libya, low amounts in Morocco

Although the eating pattern of the entire area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea can be classified as the Mediterranean Diet, each country and region holds a unique perspective and method of incorporating the diet into their culture. It is interesting to look at the differences between each of the diets, and the way they have been adapted to fit the population.

Works Cited

1.  Romagnolo DF, Selmin OI. Mediterranean Diet Dietary Guidelines and Impact on Health and Disease. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2018.

Dana Steinmetz, RD, LDN serves as your Director-Elect of Member Communications and currently works as a clinical dietitian in a large Boston-based hospital. She has been working in the field of nutrition and dietetics for one year and has loved every moment! When nutrition is not on her mind, she can be found playing beach volleyball, binge watching The Office on Netflix (likely for the 10th time) or exploring all that Boston has to offer.

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

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