Mediterranean diet

Eat like a Greek

By now, you already know that the Mediterranean diet is good for your health. Research proves that people who eat fish, whole grains, and healthy fats not only weigh less, but also have a decreased risk for heart disease, depression and dementia.

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating based on the traditional foods (and drinks) of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

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Kyparissia, near Kalamata; area known for production of virgin olive oil and Kalamata table olives.

It is a lifestyle – including foods, activities, meals with friends and family, wine in moderation with meals…And exercise, of course.

 Fruit and vegetables

A cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet is an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables. Mediterraneans regularly dine on potatoes, greens, olives, and seasonal vegetables harvested from their own gardens.

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Fresh fruits, always available

 

Potatoes

Potatoes may have bad reputation, because of their high carbohydrate content, but on the Greek Islands they’re just part of a balanced diet.

Roasted with olive oil, lemon, salt and rosemary, potatoes are a nutrient-rich side dish and they are high in Resistant Starch, which can help burn body fat.

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Boiled vegetables, usually served as salad or side dish.

Choose healthy fats

Greek cooking wouldn’t be Greek cooking without olives: They go great with any dish or can be enjoyed as a snack all by themselves.

Go for four to six servings per day (a serving could be 1 tsp. of olive oil or 5 olives). Olive oil, rich in vitamin E and iron, delivers healthy monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, good for your heart.

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Olive tree, Antiparos Island (The olive tree was the symbol of the whole Mediterranean area during ancient times. Thanks to the olives it served as a source of food and olive oil. Also, it was well respected and revered as one of two of the most important Greek mythical trees, along with the oak).

Pick seeds, nuts and legumes

Nuts and seeds are great source of fiber and protein rich in healthy fats and antioxidants. Eat a (1/2 cup) of hummus or lentil soup at least twice a week and a small portion of nuts daily (10 to 12 almonds).

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Almonds, are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Focus on seafood and eggs

The low-fat, protein-rich shellfish, goes great over pasta with lemon and olive oil. Try to eat a serving of grilled fish two to three times a week.

Eggs are also on the menu: in frittata or as omelet.

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Fresh, grilled Anchovies.

Red meat

In ancient times, Greeks and Romans considered meat a non Noble food. Meat didn’t play central role in their eating habits. Later through history, meat was consider luxury and that’s probably reason that In a traditional Mediterranean diet, red meat isn’t an everyday thing. Local pork or lamb may be served, at special events and holidays.

Dairy

Enjoy chilled kefir or Greek (non-fat) yogurt.This creamy treat packs about twice as much protein as regular yogurt, and it’s also high in calcium ( good for your bones) and probiotics (good for your stomach).

Enjoy one serving daily (1 cup of milk or yogurt) toped with fruits, honey, nuts or plain.

Flavor your dishes with feta

I mean…What’s Greek salad (Horiatiki) without Feta cheese? This cheese is a staple in Greek cuisine: Its semi-hard texture is great for both topping salads and baking into savory dishes, and it’s slightly lower in fat than some other cheeses.

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Greek salad or Horiatiki

Holy Grains

Oh, yes please! PASTA! Italians and Greeks eat a lot of pasta, but they balance it out with plenty of vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein.

(Avoid refined carbs, they lack nutrients and switch to whole grains).

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Sea food (orzo) pasta.

 Add herbs and spices

Mediterranean dishes are rich in flavor, thanks to herbs like dill, basil and oregano. Using more herbs and spices in your cooking also means you can go easy on the salt, another important part of any well-balanced diet.

Drink more coffee

As Cultural Heritage of Turkey (confirmed by UNSECO), no wonder a study has found that higher coffee consumption was associated with better blood-vessel function, a key factor in heart health. Traditional Turkish coffee is simmered (not boiled) in a small pot known as a ‘cezve’. Turkish coffee is antioxidant-rich and may offer more health benefits than conventional brewed coffee.

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Turkish coffee (source Pinterest)

Make it social

It’s not just the food that makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy; it’s also the way that Mediterraneans eat. Traditionally, they tend to gather around the table at meal time, spending quality time socializing and enjoying food together, this positive attitude toward eating helps improve digestion and lower stress, too.

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Astir beach, Athens

Live a longer life and lower your risk of health problems by eating foods associated with a Mediterranean diet.

Sources: mayoclinic.org, health.com, health.usnews.com, oldways.com, unesco.org

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