The UNESCO World Heritage list, which celebrates sites ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to the Tower of London is all set to feature the Mediterranean diet.
It would have a final vote in November for ranking on UNESCO's not-so-popular list of cultural heritage, covering oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festivals.
AdvertisementA plate of pasta washed down with a glass of wine could join the list of 178 not-to-be-missed cultural experiences including the tango, the polyphonic singing of the Aka Pygmies of central Africa, and Croatian lacemaking.
"This is a big success for our country, our dietary traditions and our culture," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Giancarlo Galan, Italian Agriculture Minister as saying.
Rolando Manfredini of the Italian farmers' lobby group Coldiretti, said: "It makes perfect sense. Not only is this culture, but it also makes you live longer and better".
Glenys Jones, of the British Medical Research Council's human nutrition research unit, said four advantages gave the diet a good name: "Fresh fruit is traditionally the dessert, which is an excellent way of getting minerals and vitamins. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and a welcome replacement for saturated fats in cooking.
"The diet is very low in red meat but uses oily fish which are a source of the essential fatty acid omega-3. And the fibre content is good, too; you feel fuller and so better able to control your appetite, and it really helps keep things moving through the digestive tract."