Foods of the Mediterranean diet: Lacto-fermented food, the food pyramid and food combinations


Mediterranean diet
Lactic acid bacteria
Fermented foods
Functional foods
Bioactive compounds


The Mediterranean diet proved to be one of the healthiest diets in the word. It has several beneficial effects and it prevents many non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. Before being a culinary regime, the Mediterranean diet is characterized by specific cultural heritages and traditions, also influencing the lifestyle of the populations. The Mediterranean diet follows the so-called food pyramid, comprising several food combinations. Indeed, it is mainly composed by vegetables, fish and dairy products, while red meat and sweets are poorly consumed. Processed foods are mainly avoided, apart from lacto-fermented ones, the first processed foods consumed by humans. Food fermentation by microorganisms not only improves the functionality of bioactive metabolites, but also increases the shelf life and organoleptic properties of the food. Lactic acid bacteria play a vital role in transforming the food constituents, thereby enhancing their nutritional and functional properties. In addition, these foods introduce beneficial bacteria into gut microbiota, thus maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and corresponding gut-brain axis, thus providing an overall improvement in health and a reduced risk of non-communicable diseases and metabolic disorders.

This review will focus on the Mediterranean diet, on its characterising food pyramid and food combinations, and on lacto-fermented foods, one of the components of the Mediterranean diet with the most beneficial effects.


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