Health Ministry releases chart detailing benefits of Mediterranean diet

Written by on June 11, 2021

Israel’s Health Ministry released a food chart on the Mediterranean diet on Tuesday, promoting its health benefits in a bid to convince people to adopt the popular diet.

The food chart, developed by the ministry, was specifically designed to maximize the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, in addition to promoting sustainable consumption in Israel. The ministry sought to present the chart as flexible, easy to understand as well as implement.

The ministry particularly highlighted the importance of healthy eating with the new chart in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to weight gain and poorer eating habits among Israelis as a result of stress and recurrent lockdowns. 

According to the Health Ministry’s data, obesity increased the risk of coronavirus hospitalization by 113%, and mortality by 50%. Likewise, surveys conducted have shown that 50% of people overate during the pandemic, and another 50% ate more snacks and sweets. There was also an average of 5 kg gained on average among Israeli adults during the pandemic, and an increase of 15-20% in the weight of Israeli children. 

The pandemic came as 60% of men and 55% of women were already overweight, according to the Health Ministry. 

Director-General of the Health Ministry, Prof. Hezi Levy, noted the importance of adopting the diet for overall improved health. 

“I see nutrition and the quality of food as one of the important tasks of the Health Ministry. In recent years there has been an increase in diabetes, heart disease, brain and blood vessel diseases. Proper nutrition from childhood is the right way to deal with these diseases and improves the quality of life and longevity.”

The chart highlights four categories of food, with the green arc indicating foods that should be consumed on a daily basis; the yellow arc listing foods to be eaten once a day; the orange arc including food recommended for consumption several times per week; and the pink arc showing foods that should be consumed infrequently. The last red arc lists foods that should be avoided altogether, particularly processed foods. 

The green arc primary lists vegetables, fruits and whole grains, while the yellow arc lists olive oil, tahini, nuts, legumes and dairy products. The orange arc details animal products, while the pink arc contains beef and other foods not recommended for regular consumption.  

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