On the occasion of an international conference devoted to the Mediterranean diet, in May 2005, in Rome, our colleague Jean-Yves Nau wrote in Le Monde on May 24, 2005: “The veil is gradually being lifted on the mysteries and virtues of “ Mediterranean diet”, a formula which suggests a catalog of dietary restrictions when it is above all a question of education of dietary pleasure. »

Nearly twenty years later, research and discoveries have progressed greatly, documentaries have reported on the progress made, although some, such as the recent series 100 Years of Plenitude: Secrets of the Blue Zones, by journalist Dan Buettner, proposed by Netflix, have regrettably biased the subject.

Many scientists, previously skeptical, have been convinced by the convincing results obtained by long-term and large-scale studies, organized since the beginning of the 1990s. What the Franco-Greek documentary recounts (remember that the most famous of diets of the region is Cretan) The Mediterranean Diet. The ideal recipe, by Alexandros Mercouris, made available by Arte.tv.


It is recalled that the first of the discoveries made through the observation of this diet, reduced in red meat, sugars and fats of animal origin (butter, cream) but rich in fruits (fresh and dried), vegetables and legumes, has been its contribution in the fight against cardiovascular diseases.

It was the work of Ancel Keys (1904-2004), an American scientist nicknamed “Mister Olive Oil” (and a centenarian who died!), who highlighted the benefits of vegetable fats, including olive oil. Today’s medicine confirms this: “Olive oil very effectively prevents myocardial infarction”, as one of the many scientists interviewed, Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, Spanish professor of public health, puts it. . And added: “I don’t like to talk about a “superfood”, but if there was one, it would be olive oil. »

Another section of the documentary focuses on the benefits of this diet with regard to certain cancers (breast cancer, colorectal cancer). A disease, recalls Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, that was once linked to smoking but which otherwise “seemed to be a divine punishment striking the chance “.

The most interesting part of Alexandros Mercouris’ film concerns links which were not yet on the agenda of the 2005 Rome conference: those between a Mediterranean-type diet and the risks of senile dementia, studied in particular In France. By increasing daily consumption of fruits, vegetables and fatty fish, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease would be reduced by 30% to 36%.

Other benefits, observed clinically, have been listed, but there is still a way to go in research and, even more so, in the dietary education of populations. Because, we remember the beginning of the Mediterranean Diet. The ideal recipe, Cretan youth now eat processed industrial products…