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Dietetics in ancient Greek philosophy: Plato's concepts of healthy diet


Plato (5th–4th century BC), one of the most important philosophers of Greek antiquity, left a valuable spiritual heritage, compiled in his famous dialogues. His teachings extend to almost every single field of human knowledge. Among other philosophical concepts, Plato's works are imbued with the fundamental principle of moderation. This spirit is characteristically evident in his references to human diet. According to the philosopher, a moderate and thus a healthy diet, consists of cereals, legumes, fruits, milk, honey and fish. However, meat, confectionery and wine should be consumed only in moderate quantities. Excesses in food lead to ailments and therefore should be avoided. Plato considers physicians responsible for the regulation of human diet, for medicine is a science and not merely an art as in the case of cookery. The dietary pattern presented in Platonic dialogues shares many common components with the highly-reputed Mediterranean diet. As a whole, Plato's writings represent a valuable source for the study of the nutritional customs during the classical period of ancient Greece.

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2001) 55, 532–537

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Correspondence to PK Skiadas.

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Skiadas, P., Lascaratos, J. Dietetics in ancient Greek philosophy: Plato's concepts of healthy diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 55, 532–537 (2001).

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  • history of nutrition
  • dietetics
  • Plato

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