are italians healthy and how?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 28, 2012 at 12:54 AM

OK I was wondering why Italians have the 'label' of being healthy people. What is the rate of CVD and strokes? and if it is good.. how do they do this while eating lots of pasta?? and they also eat a lot of bread too..

i'm just wondering.. :)



on September 25, 2012
at 12:15 PM

Oh, and I thought id add, from some quick googling - heart disease - average to low. Stroke, average to low. Diabetes, about as prevelant as it is in the US.



on August 28, 2012
at 02:18 AM

They have the highest rate of IBS in the world.



on August 28, 2012
at 01:39 AM

Their govt now tests babies for celiac, which is rising rapidly in their population and taxing their healthcare system. Also, wrt meat quality, consider that their bologna is mortadella. Lastly, unlike, say, the Japanese, Italians have plenty of obese stereotypes. Old Italian women who cook a lot tend to look hefty like my grandma did. My grandfather was ripped into his 70s and died at 94 though. He ate once a day, at 4p, and spent the rest of his time working in the garden or fixing other people's gardens.

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7 Answers

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on August 28, 2012
at 01:38 AM

They do not all eat lots of pasta.

best answer


on August 28, 2012
at 11:42 AM

I'm ITALIAN, living in Italy (Florence, Tuscany).

I don't know much about the required numbers.

I'm following a Paleo diet but have been eating a Mediterranean Diet for more than 30 years.

Needless to say that not all Italians eat a lot of pasta and pizza. A normal serving of pasta is 80 grams (max. 100). Usually, Italians do eat one serving of pasta once a day (either lunch or dinner). Pasta gets usually dressed with fresh tomato sauce and basil, meat and veggies, Pesto (cheese, basil, olive oil and pine nuts) or olive oil and garlic. Mostly topped with grated parmesan cheese (not the one you can find in the US markets, but the original cheese from Reggio Emilia).

When you eat pasta, you just add some fruit at the end of the meal or if you're still hungry, we usually eat a salad (not dressed with mayo but just herbs, salt, vinegar and olive oil) or some cheese. It's very rare that after eating pasta you add another full second dish (although exceptions do exist).

Pizza si usually something you eat at the restaurant (Pizzeria) where you can have pizzaoiolo preparing a real pizza in the wood stove (you can find frozen pizza at the market but of course the taste is not the same). Anyyway Italians, in general don't eat pizza more than twice a week (don't always believe Holliwood's movies about Italy ;-)).

The big difference with the US is that in Italy we don't snack a lot. We have our solid meals during the and that's it. We don't drink soda, iced tea or other high-sugar drinks all the day. The average Italian drinks Espresso as a snack (not the kids). We do have Coke and other brands but that's more something you drink with a Pizza during the week-end.

We have McDonalds but that's mainly offered for foreign tourists. We don't consider Mcdonalds as a good option to eat something tasty.

We don't have many other clones/imitations of McDonald except Burger King (just in few cities though) so even temptations are quite low.

We don't eat Pancakes on Monday morning and don't top our breakfast (with creamy stuff). We primarily use olive oil to cook and not other things like butter, powders of any kind, lard, etc..

On the other hand, we have real Italian Gelato (ice-cream), Cappuccino, great homemade Pastries to eat for breakfast (filled with cream, jam or chocolate), homemade bread (of any kind) with which you can polish off your tomato sauce from your pasta or eat it with good prosciutto and many other delicious (but not always healthy) things.

In general, you don't see many (very) fat Italians, although there are. Over the total population in Italy (about 60 millions), 10% is obese.

For young kids, the story is different, since in Italy one child (below 10) out of three is obese, which means 23% of our kids are obese. And Campania (the region of Naples) is the region with the highest rate of obese kids: 49% (Campania is where Pizza was invented and maybe the place where is still mostly consumed in Italy).

The result is that Italy has the highest rate of obese kids (below 10) in Europe with 23%, followed by Poland (17%) and Denmark (13%).

The problem is not only with eating but also with low-activity (sports).

I hope this helps.



on August 28, 2012
at 01:17 AM

I second KA24, and I'd like to add some of my experiences of being in Europe, and arround people from the Medditerranean.

A serving of pasta in many of those countries, especially Italy, is generally small by American standards (about 1c). But, the meal is also proceded by dishes like tapas, salads, etc, that have lots of fresh foods, and often lots of fat from olives, cheeses, and what we know as greek yogurt.

The idea of Italian food being huge plates of pasta, according to Italians I know, is more of an American invention. So while there are lots of un-paleo carbs, there's a lot more fat that American Italian food would lead you to believe. As well as, like KA24 said, fresh meats and homegrown veggies.



on August 28, 2012
at 01:00 AM

This answer doesn't go that deep, however I'll throw in my take.

After going to Europe and even visiting other European-influenced or European-owned territories, I noticed something. While they certainly have been bombarded by the S.A.D. trends laced with processed and fast foods, much of the "home grown and homemade" food consumed in these countries, and even many of the retail products, are still of much higher quality.

Not to condone grains or bread or pasta, but there is something to be said with eating this stuff with pure and healthy fats/oils, meats and vegetables. As an example, a pizza, even with a flour crust, isn't going to compound itself if the toppings are healthy meat, fresh and local tomatoes/veggies and high-quality Olive oil. I saw this first hand in Ireland and in the UK. While a cheeseburger w/bun isn't the best choice, it's not nearly as toxic if the burger is 100% grass-fed, cooked in grass-fed butter.

I suspect food quality really minimizes some of the problems. At least delaying them another generation or two until it becomes as rampant as in the Western world.


on September 25, 2012
at 09:12 AM

I find Italian food is great, when traveling to london I am also looking for an Italian restaurant here. Restaau.co.uk is the selected of me when find out all Itatian restaurants just 1 or 2 miles from my place (your home, office or hotel???).


on August 28, 2012
at 02:10 AM

I see a LOT of fat spaghetti-fed Italians. No idea about rates of diseases of affluence though.


on January 24, 2013
at 07:01 PM

Lets be honest here diets are BS - the reasons why Italians are healthy is because they take it easy and eat a wide range of simple good quality food with friends and family.

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