Pasta & The Mediterranean Diet
An Alternative Food Pyramid

For a thousand years, pasta has been a vital part of healthy diets of people all over the world. It is a staple of the Mediterranean and Italian diets—a way of eating that has been linked with long, vibrant and healthy life.

At “Healthy Pasta Meals,” a Barilla-sponsored conference (presented by Oldways Preservation Trust) held in 2004 in Rome, Italy, a consensus statement released by a group of 38 nutrition scientists from around the world noted: “The Mediterranean diet confers greater health benefits than current Western dietary patterns.”

The Mediterranean diet is not a single meal plan of specific foods, or a weight-loss plan, but rather a pyramid of recommended food groups, which the 15-plus countries that border the Mediterranean adapt according to culture, dietary habits, and the types of food the country produces.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by:

•abundant plant foods (fruit, vegetables, breads, pasta, other forms of cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds)
•olive oil as the principal source of fat.
•fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert.
•dairy products (principally cheese and yogurt), and fish and poultry consumed in low to moderate amounts.
•zero to four eggs consumed weekly.
•red meat consumed in low amounts.
•wine consumed in low to moderate amounts, normally with meals.

The cereals group, a staple of the diet, features many choices, including pasta. In Italy, pasta is a typical dish and is consumed frequently as part of that country's "Mediterranean diet."

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet:
The Mediterranean Diet is based on food patterns typical of Crete, much of the rest of Greece, and southern Italy in the early 1960s, where adult life expectancy was among the highest in the world and rates of coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and other diet-related chronic diseases among the lowest. These populations also enjoyed a physically active lifestyle that was associated with low rates of obesity.

In recent years, the body of scientific evidence supporting the healthfulness of the traditional Mediterranean eating pattern has expanded significantly. A 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death from heart disease and cancer. Cereals, which include pasta, are an integral part of the diet, as reported in the study findings.

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