The Oldways Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

by Diane, M.P.H, M.S.

Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the European Office of the World Health Organization introduced the classic Mediterranean Diet and a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid design at a conference in Cambridge, MA, in 1993. The pyramid illustrates what is now universally recognized as the “gold standard” eating pattern that promotes lifelong good health and has been used for years by consumers, educators, and health professionals alike to promote healthier eating habits. This pyramid describes a healthy, traditional Mediterranean diet, based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece and southern Italy in 1960 at a time when the rates of chronic disease among populations there were among the lowest in the world, and adult life expectancy was among the highest, even though medical services were limited.
The key to longevity is a diet that resists the last 50 years of “modernizing” foods and drinks in industrialized countries. These modern trends led to consumption of more meat (mostly beef) and other animal products, fewer fresh fruits and vegetables, and more processed convenience foods high in salt, sugar, fat, preservatives, artificial colorings and flavorings. Ironically, this diet of “prosperity” was responsible for increasing the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

 The “poor” diet of the people of the southern Mediterranean, consisting mainly of fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of dairy and red wine, has proven to be much more likely to lead to lifelong good health.


  1. “Mediterranean Diet Pyramid: A Contemporary Approach to Delicious, Healthy Eating.” Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust. 2009. (Source:
  2. “The Oldways Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.” (Source:
  3. Unesco. “The Mediterranean Diet.”
  4. “What is the Mediterranean Diet?” Information regarding the Mediterranean Pyramid and Traditional Mediterranean Diet. (Source:
  5. Willett, Walter C; Sacks, F.; Trichopoulou, A.; Drescher, G.; Ferro-Luzzi, A.; Helsing, E.; Trichopoulos, D. “Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating.”  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: 61 (6): 1402S–6S. 06/01/95. 06/01/95. (PMID 7754995)
  7. (For recipes and details on the latest scientific studies about the Mediterranean Diet, refer to this world-renowned source of Med Diet information)




Diane, M.P.H, M.S. February 17, 2012 at 12:55 am

I hope my husband is taking good care of you and wish you success as you follow a healthier lifestyle. Drink about 8-10 glasses of water each day. Eat foods that promote good health like naturally colorful fresh or frozen vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables; fresh fruits in season like oranges, grapefruits, apples, pears, bananas; natural whole grains like shredded wheat, old-fashioned oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa; legumes like lentils and beans; plain unflavored nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.) and seeds; fish and turkey or chicken without the skin, and non-fat (or low-fat) dairy products. Avoid as much as possible processed foods, cold cuts, red meat, and meals prepared with heavy sauces, sugar, salt, and butter. Eliminate, or reduce, your intake of alcohol which is loaded with empty calories! Keep up a consistent and safe exercise routine and stay positive. You’ll feel better, your health will improve, and the pounds will be shed. Good luck with everything! (I hope my website helps. Read “Hints to Help You Slim Down and Feel Better” in the ‘nutrition and public health category.’) Sincerely, Diane

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