Greeks Follow a Hybrid Mediterranean Diet, Researchers Find

Greeks mostly adhere to the diet's standards with the addition of red meat and snacks.
Athens, Greece
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Mar. 16, 2022 11:27 UTC

A con­sumer sur­vey exam­ined the eat­ing habits of Greeks and mea­sured the impor­tance they place on healthy eat­ing.

It found that a healthy and bal­anced diet is not a top pri­or­ity for Greek con­sumers, with the major­ity con­sum­ing food with­out reser­va­tions.

Greeks will con­tinue to fol­low the mod­ern food trends, adding more snacks and meat to their hybrid Mediterranean eat­ing pat­tern.- Athanasios Krystallis, assis­tant pro­fes­sor, American College of Greece

The sur­vey results, pub­lished online by the Institute of Public Health and the Center of Excellence in Food, Tourism and Leisure of the American College of Greece, also demon­strated that the mod­ern Greeks’ diet has devi­ated from a typ­i­cal Mediterranean eat­ing pat­tern to include more processed food and red meat.

See Also:Greeks Are Consuming Less Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The diet of Greeks is a mix­ture,” said Athanasios Krystallis, assis­tant pro­fes­sor at the American College of Greece who led the sur­vey. It is a hybrid of Mediterranean sta­ples and ready­made meals.”

The researchers inter­viewed 510 Greek adults in November 2021, doc­u­ment­ing their lifestyle, health sta­tus and every­day habits and came to the fol­low­ing con­clu­sions:

  • One in two Greeks weigh more than nor­mal;
  • Eight in 10 con­sume food with­out any con­straint;
  • One in four are sys­tem­atic smok­ers;
  • Three in 10 suf­fer from a diet-related dis­ease;
  • Two in 10 con­sume a por­tion of alco­hol daily.

The sur­vey results also showed that the con­sump­tion of olive oil, fruits and veg­eta­bles is high among con­sumers in Greece. However, processed food, large quan­ti­ties of red meat, snacks, soft drinks and desserts have also found their place in the eat­ing rou­tine of Greek peo­ple.

In addi­tion, the vast major­ity of the sur­vey par­tic­i­pants were obliv­i­ous to the Mediterranean diet, even though their eat­ing habits remained to a great extent within the diet’s prin­ci­ples.

Only one in 10 peo­ple we inter­viewed was aware that their eat­ing pat­tern adheres to the Mediterranean regime,” Krystallis told Olive Oil Times. The rest of them were unable to define the MedDiet. However, they stick to it instinc­tively.”

It is an impres­sive find­ing since the Mediterranean diet was defined sev­eral decades ago and we were expect­ing peo­ple in Greece, a Mediterranean coun­try with cen­turies-old culi­nary tra­di­tion, to be famil­iar with it,” he added.

The sur­vey also showed that many Greeks con­sume food in an unplanned man­ner, while they demon­strate aver­age atten­tive­ness to dis­ease pre­ven­tion and health pro­mo­tion.

Around one-third of the par­tic­i­pants said that health is defined by fate, and they eat what­ever they like with­out think­ing twice, while 40 per­cent believe they have lit­tle capac­ity to pre­vent ill­ness.

Melpomeni Peppa, a pro­fes­sor of endocrinol­ogy at the University of Athens who par­tic­i­pated in the pre­sen­ta­tion of the sur­vey, empha­sized the impor­tance of qual­ity food in dis­ease pre­ven­tion and con­trol.

Various dis­eases includ­ing dia­betes mel­li­tus, obe­sity, neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease and can­cer often reach epi­demic pro­por­tions in our time,” Peppa told Olive Oil Times. Our diet is an impor­tant envi­ron­men­tal fac­tor asso­ci­ated with main­tain­ing health or the onset of a dis­ease.”

Quantity and qual­ity of food are equally impor­tant, as well as the mul­ti­ple stages in the food chain, includ­ing ori­gin, ster­il­iza­tion, trans­porta­tion and stor­age of food,” she added. There are many envi­ron­men­tal destruc­tors’ that can impact food qual­ity and make it harm­ful.”

Peppa also empha­sized that, accord­ing to the national nutri­tional guide of Greece, a well-bal­anced Mediterranean eat­ing plan should include sta­ples such as fresh fruits, veg­eta­bles, fish and legumes, along with four to five por­tions of olive oil or olives daily (one por­tion equals a table­spoon of olive oil or 10 to 12 olives).

Krystallis, on the other hand, said despite the major­ity of the respon­dents hav­ing a good under­stand­ing of food value, they exhib­ited nar­row minds” when it came to their day-to-day meals.


It seems that noth­ing can per­suade us to change our eat­ing habits,” he said. Greeks will con­tinue to fol­low the mod­ern food trends, adding more snacks and meat to their hybrid Mediterranean eat­ing pat­tern.”

Consumption of red meat sig­nif­i­cantly increased in Greece when the coun­try joined the European Union back in 1981,” Krystallis added. It became much eas­ier to import meat from European pro­duc­ing coun­tries since bureau­cratic pro­ce­dures and taxes were abol­ished.”

As for the future, Krystallis expects that there will be a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion in people’s dietary habits.

We must be pre­pared for ground­break­ing changes in our eat­ing pref­er­ences,” he said. There is sim­ply not enough food on the planet for all the live­stock needed for human con­sump­tion, so we will have to move away from ani­mal pro­tein and turn to other pro­tein sources such as insects, sea­weed and algae.”

This is not a sce­nario on paper,” he added. Relevant research within the E.U. has advanced sig­nif­i­cantly in recent years, and it will become a real­ity in the very near future. By the time there is even a sin­gle such prod­uct on the super­mar­ket shelves, the race is on to mea­sure con­sumers’ reac­tions and even­tu­ally start mass pro­duc­tion.”


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