UN promotes Mediterranean, traditional diets
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) said promoting traditional healthy diets is important for advancing global efforts towards a food system that respects the environment, culture and well-being of people, which is a fundamental element of sustainable development.
That was the main message at a recent event organized by the Government of Italy with support from FAO aimed at deepening understanding of the Mediterranean and other traditional diets from around the world and their nutritional benefits, as well as raising awareness on how they can help achieve progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Promoting and protecting healthy diets and making them available, accessible and affordable is critical for having a fulfilled and happy life,” FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said in his opening remarks.
He cited some good examples of traditional healthy diets that “contain the wisdom of our ancestors and the cultural essence of generations”.
These include the Mediterranean diet which implies high intakes of diverse vegetables, fruits, legumes, herbs and olive oil, the New Nordic Diet, traditional Japanese Diet, and the South of China’s Regional Cuisine.
All of them can boast a number of benefits, for example, they can lower cholesterol, prevent heart diseases and diabetes, Qu said.
However, the FAO Director-General warned that despite the numerous benefits of these diets they are often neglected due to a combination of factors such as population growth, globalization, urbanization, economic pressures and the fast pace of life which are driving change in our diets and consumption patterns.
Qu then called on all the stakeholders “to join our efforts in ensuring that traditional diets regain their importance and well-deserved position in the people’s mind”, and encouraged particularly the young generation to re-discover enjoyment of cooking healthy meals at home as opposed to opting for fast-food meals.