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May officially marks National Mediterranean Diet Month [Infographic]

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Updated: 8/16/2013 3:43 pm

According to a recent study by BrandIQ and Zoës Kitchen, only 5 percent of Americans are aware that Mediterranean goes beyond Greek food and the cuisine actually encompasses 21 countries. While the results suggest Americans typically stick to their standard diet staples, the majority surveyed are looking to explore culinary techniques and dishes from the Mediterranean.

Whether to reap the benefits of a longer life that a strictly Mediterranean diet has been shown to provide, or simply expand one's pallet, it's clear Mediterranean is making a move to mainstream in the U.S.

Mediterranean staples, like hummus and olive oil, are experiencing extreme growth in the U.S. Hummus dominates the refrigerated spreads category, with U.S. consumption increasing 35 percent from 2008 to 2010. Olive oil imports to the U.S. continue to increase with a 7 percent growth in the last year.

Seventy-three percent of Americans experiment with the Mediterranean diet because they are motivated by health reasons. The diet touts benefits, including higher quality and longevity of life. Plus, about 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in high-risk people if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables.

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