Everyone loves to eat. From caviar and foie gras, raw vegetables and nuts to plant roots and leaves, there are more cuisines and types of food than anyone can enumerate. Every cuisine has its positives and labeling any type of food as being “bad” is dangerous – like they say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. However, among all the cuisines of the world, there is one that is known for being among the most delectable. What is surprising for those who have grown up believing the cliched quote“If it’s yummy, it’s not good for you!”, is that it is also accepted as being one of the healthiest cuisines known to man. That is the Mediterranean diet.
What Is It?
The term Mediterranean diet refers to the traditional cuisine of Italy, Greece and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The main components are various plant-based foods such as legumes, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, fruit, nuts, various spices and herbs (in moderation) and olive oil, which is the main source of fat used in cooking.In addition, poultry, fish and shellfish and dairy are the main sources of protein. Some dishes are based on the use of red meat, but these are not normally part of the everyday diet – perhaps that is what makes them so tasty. Sweets are enjoyed, but again in moderation and the accent is on food being fresh and light and not on an excess of sugar or other sweeteners.
Anyone who has seenpictures of a Mediterranean dinner table will recall seeing glasses of wine at every place setting. While wine is a common accompaniment for Mediterranean food, it is consumed to add even more to the overall flavor of the meal and not for its alcoholic content.The medical benefitsof wine consumption are being debated, but in moderation, it is accepted as being a safe and tasty accompaniment to a meal.
It’s Not a Fad
Fad diets are nothing new – they come and go regularly. The Mediterranean diet is not a fad. It has been gaining importance since the early 1950s when it was noticed that the incidence of heart disease and other ailments was much lower in the Mediterranean region compared to the U.S. In the last 70 years, several reputed studies have confirmed the health benefits of this cuisine. The Mayo Clinic calls it “a heart-healthy eating plan”. The American Heart Association has this to say – “Year after year, the Mediterranean diet comes out on top in the U.S. News and World Report annual ranking of best diets. A panel of experts judge various eating plans and popular diets on criteria including how healthy they are, how well they work and how easy they are to follow. The Mediterranean diet is also touted as one of the healthiest by many health organizations and dietitians.”
Eating Healthy Is Delicious
Food is a very personal matter and a person who has grown up with and enjoys one type of food, will often be reluctant to make any major changes to his or her diet. The occasional Chinese or Indian meal may make a nice change, but it is not what most people, from other ethnic backgrounds, will eat every day. The great thing about Mediterranean food is that it is absolutely delicious. The lightness and freshness of the food appeals to everyone, no matter how used they are to other types of food.
Try It Now, If You Haven’t Already Done So
You don’t have to completely switch to a Mediterranean diet. Even an occasional meal makes a great change and even a single dish adds wonderful variety to your food and the way you eat. What often happens is that once people try this cuisine, they love it and go on to incorporate some of the great-tasting dishes into their daily diet.
To get started, all you need to do is find a grocery store that specializes in Mediterranean food and produce and, to make life even easier, has a dedicated Deli department.