The Mediterranean diet is all set to make an entry in Unesco’s coveted heritage list. The Unesco world heritage lists, which celebrate sites ranging from the birthplace of Buddha to the Tower of London, are about to be livened up by an unusual new culinary entry: the Mediterranean diet.
Alongside crumbling castles and Greek temples, the United Nations is set to add a salad of tomato and mozzarella, topped off by a splash of virgin olive oil, to its miscellany of global patrimony worth protecting.The Mediterranean diet, with its mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, grilled fish and lashings of olive oil favoured in Italy, Greece and Spain, faces a final vote in November for ranking on Unesco’s lesser-known list of ‘intangible’ cultural heritage, covering oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festivals.
A plate of pasta washed down with a glass of wine could join the list of 178 not-to-be-missed cultural experiences. “This is a big success for our country, our dietary traditions and our culture,” said the Italian Agriculture Minister, Giancarlo Galan.
Rolando Manfredini, Food Safety Officer for the Italian farmers’ lobby group Coldiretti, said: “It is strange putting a diet on the list but it makes sense. Not only is this culture, but it also makes you live longer and better.”
Coldiretti said Mediterranean diet meant Italian men were living to an average age of 78.6, and women to 84.1, far above the European average, and anyone sticking to the diet was 13 per cent less likely to suffer from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and 9 per cent less prone to cancer.
Glenys Jones, of the Medical Research Council’s human nutrition research unit, says, the diet gets an edge as: “Fresh fruit, the
traditional dessert, is a great to get minerals and vitamins. Olive oil, a monounsurated fat, is a healthy replacement for saturated fats.
The diet would join Sicilian puppet theatres and Sardinian pastoral songs, which already represent Italy on the list.
What makes the med cuisine cool
Fab Fat: The diet is very low in red meat but uses oily fish which are a source of the essential fatty acid Omega 3.
Full of Fibre: the fibre content is good too; you feel fuller and so better able to control your appetite, and it really helps keep things moving through the digestive tract.
Tomato Treat: One of the glories of the diet — the tomato — which came to Europe from its native America at the beginning of the 16th century, is known for its anti-cancerous properties.