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The Mediterranean Diet - Not Just Healthy But Tasty Too!

Posted by Administrator on 5/16/2013

For quite a few years now we’ve been hearing about the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. But what makes this particular diet so healthy? Well the modern Mediterranean diet is inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of southern Italy, Greece and Spain. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products.


We should take note however that despite its name, this diet is not typical of all Mediterranean cuisine. For example, in Northern Italy, lard and butter are commonly used in cooking, and olive oil is reserved for dressing salads and cooked vegetables. In North Africa, wine is traditionally avoided by Muslims, and in some Middle Eastern countries, sheep’s fat and rendered butter are commonly used in cooking.


One major characteristic of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which contains a very high level of monounsaturated fats, most notably oleic acid, which recent studies suggest may be linked to a reduction in coronary heart disease risk. There is also evidence that the antioxidants in olive oil improve cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol reduction, and that it has other anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive effects.


The Mediterranean diet often is cited as beneficial for being low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber. This is also attributed to the health effects of olive oil.


The inclusion of red wine is considered a factor contributing to health as it contains flavonoids with powerful antioxidant properties.


However, dietary factors are only part of the reason for the health benefits enjoyed by certain Mediterranean cultures. A physically active lifestyle or is also critical to maintaining overall health and well being.


And did you know that on November 17, 2010, UNESCO recognized this diet pattern as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Italy, Greece, Spain and Morocco?  


Here’s a delicious, easy–to-prepare dish that draws on Mediterranean cuisine, enjoy!
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