12 May 2023 News

Mattas K., Raptou E., Alayidi A., Yener G., Baourakis G. Assessing the Interlinkage between Biodiversity and Diet through the Mediterranean Diet Case. Advances in Nutrition, 2023.

The adoption of healthy and sustainable diets and the transition to sustainable food systems is of principal importance in order to counteract the double burden of climate change and noncommunicable diseases. The Mediterranean diet (MD) has been widely recognized as a biodiversity and healthy nutrition resource to support sustainable development and food security. This study explored biodiversity in terms of food plants species, subspecies, varieties, and races, and also addressed food plant diversity differences between the MD and Western-type consumption patterns. It was funded by the EU BioValue Project, aiming to promote the integration of underutilized crops into the food value chains. Using a 2-stage scheme, data were selected from MEDUSA and Euro+Med databases (including 449 species, 2366 subspecies, varieties, and races). Furthermore, 12 countries from North Africa and Europe were classified in 2 groups according to their subregional attributes and their traditionally most prevalent dietary pattern (MD or Western-type diets). Statistical analysis showed that the mean of the majorly cultivated food plants in the MD was significantly higher than its counterpart in the Western diet. Furthermore, no statistical difference was detected in the averages of native food plants between the MD group and the Western diet group, implying that the higher diversity in food plants observed in the MD seems to be attributed to crop utilization rather than crop availability. Our findings indicated the interlinkage between biodiversity and prevailing dietary patterns and further underlined that biodiversity could constitute a prerequisite for dietary diversity and hence nutrition security. In addition, this study demonstrated that diets and nutrition should be approached in a broader way within the context of both agro-food and ecological systems.