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This Is What The Italian Diet Really Does To Your Body

We love Italian food... seriously, give us all the pizza, pasta and gelato you’ve got. It’s perhaps a bit strange, then, that a nation responsible for such calorific delights is held up as being one of the healthiest in the world. It turns out that there’s quite a bit more to the story, though – and here’s what eating like an Italian will actually do to you.

The world has its perception of the classic Italian diet but, in reality, it’s slightly different than how we might picture it in our minds. Most Italians enjoy a diet full of fish, fruits, poultry, whole grains, beans, tomatoes and vegetables, on top of their staple pasta dishes. They tend to avoid red meat and they love their wine and coffee. Their diet as a whole’s traditionally known as the Mediterranean diet.

On top of this, the Italian attitude to food’s very different to that in other parts of the world. Eating a meal’s a sacred thing in Italy; an experience that, if done right, takes time. Stephano Gumina, a doctor in Rome, told WebMD, “We eat by our stomachs, not by our heads. And since we dine leisurely, we get the signal that we are full and can just enjoy a coffee and the company.”

The Mediterranean diet, coupled with how the nation treats eating, has contributed to Italy being named one of the healthiest countries on the planet. But what if we told you the reality was more nuanced than that? What if we told you that some Italian food can actually be quite bad for you, and that some questionable food habits from other countries have been creeping into Italian culture for quite some time?

In 2013 The Lancet journal published an assessment of public health in 19 nations worldwide. The outcomes were collated from 20 years of data, and they revealed something interesting. Italy had the second-longest life expectancy of any nation, coming in above other European countries such as Sweden, France, and Germany.