The Mediterranean Diet, an Interview

Interview with Miss Silvaggio, biology teacher in Assisi

by Dario Santucci (1994)  and Beatrice Biancardi (1994), LSP Assisi/Italy

trait d’union: What is the Mediterranean diet?

Miss Silvaggio: The Mediterranean diet is mainly based on a balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, lipids and minerals.

trait d’union: What kind of foods does this diet include?

Miss Silvaggio: This diet can be represented by a  pyramid in which the foods at the base are consumed in larger quantities than those at the top. The lowest level  of the pyramid (60 % of energy requirements)  includes foods containing cereals, pulses rich in carbohydrates, the second level (30%-40%) fruits and vegetables containing mineral salts, vitamins and water, the third level (10%-15%) fish, meat and dairy products containing proteins and the highest level of the pyramid includes fats (5 %).

Cereals are important because they contain vitamin B which is important for growth and development of organisms. This diet doesn’t apply to people who are obese or sportsmen. But it is for the young and those who don’t have health problems.

trait d’union: How many calories should people eat?

Miss Silvaggio: Men of normal weight should not eat more than 2500 kcal a day and women should not exceed 2200 kcal.

trait d’union: Is physical activity important?

Miss Silvaggio: Yes, physical activity is essential, as in any diet.

trait d’union: Why has it spread throughout the Mediterranean basin?

Miss Silvaggio: The answer is related to our history because this diet was used by both the ancient Greeks and then Romans whose diet was based on agriculture. In fact they ate cereals, olive oil and little animal fat.

trait d’union: Some data about the distribution of the Mediterranean diet in Italy.

Miss Silvaggio: Today the Mediterranean diet is most prevalent in the south, followed by the centre and then the north. In early 2000 it was recognized as a world intangible heritage by UNESCO, because it was seen that people who follow this show lower cholesterol levels and have fewer cardiovascular problems (in the Mediterranean there are fewer heart attacks than in Slovenia or in America, etc..).due to the consumption of extra virgin olive oil which contains an essential fatty acid that can eliminate fat.

trait d’union: What are typical dishes of this diet?

Miss Silvaggio: In the centre of Italy  we eat various pasta dishes with sauce, olive oil and Parmesan which are complete meals in themselves, as well as spelt soup’s, beans or grains. In  the south, typical dishes include pasta with beans, chickpeas or potatoes in addition to pizza Margherita, a pizza with mozzarella cheese and tomato topping.

trait d’union: What initiatives could be implemented in schools to spread education and adoption of the Mediterranean diet?

Miss Silvaggio: We could put fresh fruit snacks, yogurt, cereals bars and cornflakes, in vending machine and include local dishes on the menu in canteens. It is important to raise awareness of the Mediterranean diet right from primary school so dieticians should be present in schools and the subjects of diet should be studied.

trait d’union: What do you personally think?

Miss Silvaggio: I think we should promote the Mediterranean diet and try to go to Fast Food restaurants as little as possible.

uld be inserted as a topic study in school programs.

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