Mediterranean Diet


The delicious Unesco approved Mediterranean diet. © iStock
The delicious Unesco approved Mediterranean diet.

Jointly proposed by Spain, Greece, Italy and Morocco, the Mediterranean Diet was recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010.

The Mediterranean Diet is classified by employing ten principles, which include using olive oil; eating plenty of fruit and vegetables (plus legumes and nuts); bread and grains; fresh, local, unprocessed foods; dairy products on a daily basis; moderate red meat, eggs and wine; plenty of fish and poultry; and lots of water. Plus the social aspect of eating communally; associated traditional songs, rituals and celebrations; and farming and fishing practices.

It is claimed that the diet, rich in fibre and vitamins and low in fat, can reduce risk of various health problems, including obesity, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease, as well as boosting life expectancy.

Local products have always been at the heart of Andalucian cuisine, with fresh vegetables, fish and meat offering especially high quality. Tapas and gastronomy is a key aspect of Andalucia for residents and visitors to the region alike, as showed in the results of our readers' survey on "What Andalucia is most famous for": 13% of you voted for Gastronomy/Tapas.

The full UNESCO statement:

"The Mediterranean diet constitutes a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a nutritional model that has remained constant over time and space, consisting mainly of olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruit and vegetables, a moderate amount of fish, dairy and meat, and many condiments and spices, all accompanied by wine or infusions, always respecting beliefs of each community. However, the Mediterranean diet (from the Greek diaita, or way of life) encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events. It has given rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, tales and legends. The system is rooted in respect for the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts linked to fishing and farming in the Mediterranean communities which Soria in Spain, Koroni in Greece, Cilento in Italy and Chefchaouen in Morocco are examples. Women play a particularly vital role in the transmission of expertise, as well as knowledge of rituals, traditional gestures and celebrations, and the safeguarding of techniques."