The Mediterranean Diet

In the last few decades, a renewed emphasis on good nutrition and a fascination with the Mediterranean diet has resulted in a revival in the Olive Oil trade. Many studies have attributed several health benefits to this diet, with very encouraging findings, and the research is still on-going. One of the main benefits of the Mediterranean diet is due to being low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fibre. As a result, over the last 2 decades the Mediterranean diet has been gaining a lot of attention at an increasing rate.

Typically, this diet is based on the eating habits found in Greece (especially in Crete), and in Southern Italy.

Components of the Mediterranean diet in these regions include:

  • Daily physical activity
  • An emphasis on abundant plant foods (i.e., vegetables, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, bread and other cereals)
  • OLIVE OIL as the principal source of fat
  • Zero to four eggs consumed per week
  • Daily dairy products (mainly cheese and yogourt)
  • Vry little red meat
  • Low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry
  • Low to moderate amounts of wine
  • Fresh fruit for a daily dessert

Although the people living in Mediterranean countries tend to consume relatively high amounts of fat, they have far lower rates of cardiovascular disease, and one of the main explanations is thought to be the large amount of Olive Oil used in the Mediterranean Diet. It is healthier for human consumption than corn and vegetable oils. Unlike the high amount of animal fats typical to the North American diet, Olive Oil lowers cholesterol levels in the blood. (Mayo Clinic. "Olive Oil: Which Type Is Best?." ScienceDaily 14 August 2007. 19 November 2007)

In the late 1990s, the United States and Canada consumed Olive Oil at a yearly rate of 147,600 tons (150,000 metric tons). The demand often exceeds the supply, and during the 1990s prices rose significantly. The following chart shows global consumption levels.

The main producing Olive Oil countries (data as of 2005) are illustrated in this chart:

Country Production Consumption Annual Per Capita
Consumption (in kg)
Spain 36% 20% 13.62
Italy 25% 30% 12.35
Greece 18% 9% 23.7
Turkey 5% 2% 1.2
Syria 4% 3% 6
Tunisia 8% 2% 9.1
Morocco 3% 2% 1.8
Portugal 1% 2% 7.1
United States 0% 8% 0.56
France 0% 4% 1.34
Lebanon 0% 3% 1.18

In summary, the following observations are noteworthy:

  • Spain is the global production leader, producing 36% of the world’s Olive Oil.
  • Italy is the global national consumption leader, consuming 30% of the world’s Olive Oil production.
  • Greece is the global per capita consumption leader, where each citizen consumes 23.7kg of Olive Oil annually.

olive oil

For our recipes using olive oil and for healthy inspiring culinary ideas, please see our Olive Oil Recipes page.
Our complete selection of healthy and flavourful Extra Virgin Olive Oils can be viewed by clicking here: Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid:

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid Olive Oil Emporium