To investigate the evolution of the Mediterranean Diet (MD) in a delimited area of Southern Italy, by comparing the diet adopted 60-70 years ago (Prototypical Mediterranean Diet, PMD) with the contemporary one (Contemporary Mediterranean Diet, CMD), and to verify to what extent they fitted the recommendations of the Italian and the USDA dietary guidelines.
We recruited a total of 106 participants, divided in two groups. PMD group included 52 women aged >80 years, with a good cognitive function and full independence in basic and instrumental activities of daily living. CMD group included 20 men and 34 women aged 50-60 years. Food intake was assessed by administering the EPIC food frequency questionnaire to each participant, and an additional survey to the PMD subjects only.
Both PMD and CMD showed adequate intakes of macronutrients, although some deficiencies related to micronutrient requirements were evident. CMD showed a slightly greater use of animal products, processed and sugary foods, and higher intakes of simple sugars, animal proteins (49.6 vs 28.3 g/day), animal lipids (37.8 vs 20.1 g/day), saturated fats (25.0 vs 15.8 g/day) and cholesterol (305.0 vs 258.5 g/day). PMD showed many similarities to the original version of the MD in terms of macronutrients distribution and food choices.
The documented evolution of the dietary habits over a 70 years timespan suggests that nowadays Mediterranean regions adhere less strictly to the original MD, although nutrients intakes are adequate to LARN and USDA recommendations.