Mediterranean Diet – A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health

August 6th, 2015

According to inform received by, Portugal Post has issued a special set of stamps on theme "The Mediterranean Diet". The Mediterranean Diet is a food concept that, within the history chronology, is as much timeless as it is accurate. Its classification as "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO confirms not only the existence of a specific food regime, but also a historic trace born within the Mediterranean. The issue consisting of four items was released and put into circulation on the 20th of July.

A study launched in the late 1950s, under the coordination of the North American physiologist Ancel Keys has, in 1970, come to some conclusions, which still serve today as a paradigm to justify the so-called Mediterranean Diet. According to the research group led by the professor Keys, the peoples, among the seven countries studied, whose food diet was based on vegetable fats, instead of animal fats, lived longer and had a lower tendency to suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

The diet of Crete represented one of the emblematic cases reported. In this Greek island, the researchers found that locals daily consumed an average of 80 to 100 grams of olive oil as food seasoning or they ate olives in generous doses as accompaniment to bread. According to experts, these established habits revealed that the high consumption of monounsaturated vegetable fats such as olive oil (rich in oleic acid) rather than animal fats provided Cretans with a greater longevity and improved health status ‒ these results were not evident when compared to the inhabitants from other regions and countries under study, whose food modus vivendi differed form others found in Mediterranean.

Although the Mediterranean diet has been born in association with a particular food style, its concept has proved to be quite evolutionary and comprehensive. The UNESCO has initially classified the joint proposal from Spain, Greece, Italy and Morocco in 2010. Three years later, the international peer-review committee met in the city of Baku, in Azerbaijan, to favorably resolve upon the ratification of the original proposal, thus allowing the inclusion of Cyprus, Croatia and Portugal.

In December 2013, Portugal was then registered as a country where the Mediterranean Diet goes beyond the nutritional aspect, persisting as anthropological, sociological and gastronomic heritage. This issue of stamps reveals the Southern gastronomy as a symbol of that heritage.

The Algarve region is the natural heir of what the Mediterranean has left us, but the historical background extends also to Alentejo. On the one hand, regional specialties from Alentejo, such as the purslane broth or the sweet potato Portuguese scones, are illustrated in two of the stamps. On the other hand, the dishes particular to the Algarve region, such as the pickled horse mackerels and the chick-peas with pears stew, appear in the other two.

It is about a philatelic tour through these two regional cuisines seasoned by the Mediterranean which, in spite of being ancestral cuisines, are still part of pleasure of living in the contemporary Portugal.