Everyone talks about Mediterranean food and how tasty it is. A lot has been appearing of late in the media about the scientific research that proves how healthy it is. More and more people are now incorporating Mediterranean dishes into their menus and Middle Eastern restaurants are becoming increasingly popular. But even among Mediterranean food fans, many do not fully understand the scope and variety of this cuisine. For them, here is a very brief outline of what Mediterranean food is.
The Mediterranean Region
The area around the Mediterranean Sea, or the Mediterranean basin as it is called, is made up of several countries, including Spain, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Syria and more. While each country has its own distinctive cuisine, there are many commonalities and the basis, in the form of ingredients (olive oil, varieties of bread, wine, spices, etc.) and cooking methods, are very similar. Just as Chinese and Italian food were brought to America by immigrants who came to this country, so did Mediterranean food. It was immigrants and refugees from the Middle East who brought their traditional foods with them.
The focus of this food is on fresh ingredients, pronounced but also subtle flavors and easy preparation. While there is a vast range of meat and seafood dishes to choose from, the basis of the cuisine is plant food along with staples that are only processed minimally and fresh herbs and spices. Local fresh produce is the basis of this food. Fruits and vegetables form a large part of the diet. With a few exceptions, the food of this region does not require elaborate preparation or long cooking times. Retaining the natural flavor and fresh taste of the food is at the core of Middle Eastern food. While salt is used, the usage is limited and herbs and spices replace it. Not only does this add to the taste, but it also makes the food much healthier.
Talking about health, there are innumerable studies that prove that this diet is the healthiest in the world, as evidenced by the long average lifespan of the people of this region. The ingredients contain mono saturated fats that have a positive impact on cholesterol levels. The food is also rich in omega-3 acids that control blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Being rich in fiber, the food is great for the digestive system. The fruits, seeds and wines that are an integral part of this diet are a powerful source of the antioxidants your body needs. There is significant evidence that Mediterranean food helps to strengthen the immune system, slows down the aging process, protects against type 2 diabetes and helps to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The food is great in taste, good for you and easy to prepare – what more could you ask for?
If you haven’t been eating Mediterranean food, you have been missing a lot. If you already love it, are you sure you have explored all the delicacies it has to offer? You don’t have to go out to Middle Eastern restaurants to enjoy this delicious food. There are Middle Eastern groceries available all over and it is in these stores that you will find the best the region has to offer. As for the preparation, you will find recipes to suit every palate online or in cookbooks.