The first studies on the Mediterranean diet took place in the 1950s by American scientist
Dr. Ancel Keys. Back then, we did not understand much about how nutrition and lifestyle affect health problems like heart disease. Scientists did notice, however, that people in some countries were healthier and lived longer than others.
This prompted Dr. Keys to begin the now famous “Seven Countries Study” of nearly
13,000 men in the United States, Greece, Italy, Japan, Finland, Holland and Yugoslavia.
During this study, Dr. Keys noted lower cholesterol and lower rates of heart disease in
people living in the Mediterranean region. 1 More recent studies have not only confirmed Dr. Keys’s observations, but have discovered and quantified even more health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.2
Decades of additional studies have tried to understand what exactly made these people
live longer and healthier. Thus, their lifestyle and diet patterns became known as the
- Keys, Ancel. Seven countries. A multivariate analysis of death and coronary heart disease. Harvard University Press, 1980.
- Menotti, Alessandro, et al. "Comparison of multivariate predictive power of major risk factors for coronary heart diseases in different countries: results from eight nations of the Seven Countries Study, 25-year follow-up." Journal of cardiovascular risk 3.1 (1996): 69-75.