We are all taught at a very early age that different countries with diverse cultures exist around the world. Whether the country has only existed for a few decades or thousands of years, each one has differing views and traditions that they cherish in their own ways.
This implies that each culture views nutrition differently, which is reflected in their eating and drinking habits.
We are going to look at local eating habits from around the world, in the attempt to find a greater understanding of nutrition around the world.
The Mediterranean Diet
Originating from the earliest of civilizations and once considered the “poor man’s diet” during the rise of the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean diet had been passed down from generation to generation throughout the Mediterranean coast. Practiced in Southern Italy, France, Greece, Spain, and parts of the middle east, and, is one of the world’s oldest dietary lifestyles. The main staples of the diet include whole grains and breads, locally grown fruits and vegetables, olive oil, legumes, potatoes, fish, and the occasional cheese and yogurt.
The Philosophy of Diaita
To gain a greater understanding of the philosophy behind the diet, one must examine the root of the word and its applications. The origin of the word diet comes from the Greek word ‘Diaita’. The word can be roughly translated to “way of living” and is defined less about policing what a person ate and more about a person’s lifestyle. That meant not just a person adjusting what they ate, but where they lived, how they slept, what they wore, and who they socialized with. The idea of Diaita is the multiple factors that contribute to overall health. That means if you were sleeping poorly or if you are overworking yourself, or if you are not socializing with family enough, then your overall quality of life and health suffered.
This notion of diaita was lost over time in the main parts of Europe due to new political ideas that came with the establishment of newer empires but was kept into practice in coastal areas of Europe, as well as parts of the Middle East, due to the rise of Christianity and Islam dietary observations.
Why the Mediterranean Diet is Considered Healthy
The diet itself was declared to be one of the healthiest mostly because the research findings of Ancel Keys, a scientist who was studying the correlation between chronic and cardiovascular diseases and food intake during the 1950’s. His 10-year multi cultural-dietary research concluded that the Mediterranean diet, along with the moderate physical activities and less overeating and smoking, decreased the chances of cholesterol in the bloodstream and conditions like diabetes and obesity.
In fact, there have been many studies and randomized clinical trials that concluded that the Mediterranean Diet “decreased abdominal circumference, increased high-density lipoprotein and decreased triglycerides, blood pressure and concentration of glucose in the blood.
Basic Rules of Thumb for the Mediterranean Diet
- Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, Potatoes, Whole Grains, Seafood, and Olive oil are eaten the most often for a healthy combination of vitamins, antioxidants, and fats.
- Poultry, Eggs, Cheese, and Yogurt are fine in moderation, but shouldn’t be considered the main staple.
- Red meat is a rarity in this diet and should be eaten on the same occasional level as sweets.
- Avoid added sugars, refined grains, and highly processed foods.
- Make a point to enjoy meals with friend and family. Don’t forget to be a little active every day.
- This diet also includes a glass per day of red wine, but that is optional.
- Coffee and tea are also acceptable as beverages, but sweetened juices and sodas should be avoided.
Authentic Mediterranean Cuisine
Baked Parmesan Tomatoes
This appetizer brings out the savory flavor of the tomato and the tastiness of parmesan cheese. Combine it with fresh oregano and olive oil and you have the perfect snack. Click on the photo above for the recipe.
Creamy Garlic Pasta with Shrimp and Pasta
This main course has all the staples of the Mediterranean diet spun in a uniquely refreshing way. This low-calorie dish is high in fiber and low in added sugars making this healthy and delicious. Feel free to click on the corresponding photo for the recipe.
Tuscan Style Tuna Salad
This no fuss, easy to make recipe adds an Italian spin to a no cook sandwich recipe. Filled with tomatoes and shallots, and other fresh ingredients, this little sandwich packs a punch of flavor. Click on the photo for the recipe.