Ever wonder what the food diet of the ancient Greek gods and goddesses was?
The people of Greece, particularly in the island of Ikaria, is known to be one of the regions of the world where people tend to live unusually long and healthy lives in which it is normal for them to make it to 100 years or more. Even before it is known to be a ”Blue Zone” –the places where the world’s healthiest and longest-living people reside, Ikaria has received considerable attention from nutrition experts and authors who want to unfold the mysteries of its long-living residents and the secret of low incidence of chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
So, what’s their secret to a very long and healthy life?
Featuring whole grains, legumes, nuts, cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, a glass of red wine, fish and dairy, and olive oil as the main source of fat, the Mediterranean diet, well-known as the number one of the world’s healthiest diets, makes the people of Ikaria and other Blue Zone areas enjoy life, literally, to the fullest.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Greece and Italy, and other areas surrounding the Mediterranean sea thousand of years ago. Because of the geography and climate of this area, people here have enjoyed a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, lots of fresh seafood and plenty of olives. Other important elements of the Mediterranean diet are sharing meals with family and friends, enjoying a glass of red wine and being physically active.
Aside from this diet is a delicious way to eat, drink and live, it’s also a realistic and sustainable way to reduce disease and inflammation, improve one’s mood, and a perfect way of maintaining a healthy weight range. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, metabolic complications, depression, type-2 diabetes, obesity, dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and many forms of cancer.
Healthy fats, particularly the Monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, constitute the cornerstone of this heart-healthy diet. Although there is no single way of preparing Mediterranean diet, all of them are based on whole, healthy foods with an emphasis on monounsaturated-rich fats. Olive oil, the primary source of fat in this diet, provides MUFA fats. It is associated with lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol). Moreover, many MUFA-rich fats are also high in antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation and prevent chronic diseases.
In addition to Olive oil, nuts, and seeds that contain MUFAs, fish are also important in the Mediterranean diet. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and lake trout — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that may reduce inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids also help decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting, and decrease the risk of stroke and heart failure.
Another influencing factor is that this diet is not just a diet or even a way of eating, it is actually a lifestyle! It encourages people to spend a lot of time outdoors in nature, get good sleep and enjoy family bonding with a home-cooked healthy meal (rather than alone or on-the-go) which are great ways to relieve stress and, therefore, help prevent inflammation.
Besides being hailed as the healthiest diet in the world, the Mediterranean diet is also ranked as the number 1 of the world’s easiest diets to follow. Here are some tips on how you can make the best of the Mediterranean diet:
- Eat primarily plant-based foods. Aim for 7 to 10 servings a day of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Opt for whole grains. Switch to whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, rice (brown or red), oats, barley, and potatoes (red or purple) Experiment with other whole grains, such as bulgur and farro.
- Use healthy fats. Use extra virgin olive oil as your primary source of fat. Use it as a replacement for butter when cooking. Instead of putting butter or margarine on bread, try dipping it in flavored olive oil.
- Eat more seafood. Eat fish twice a week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleanup. Avoid deep-fried fish.
- Cut back on red meat. Substitute fish, poultry or beans for meat. If you eat meat, make sure it’s lean and keep portions small.
- Enjoy some dairy. Eat low-fat Greek or plain yogurt and small amounts of a variety of cheeses.
- Snack on Healthy. Enjoy a moderate amount of nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruit daily.
- Spice it up. Herbs and spices boost flavor and lessen the need for salt.
- Sip red wine in moderation. Have one small glass of red wine per day, with a meal.
- Skip the sugar. Eat sweets on special occasions only.
Here is a guide of healthy and unprocessed Mediterranean foods and drinks where you can base your diet:
What to Eat
- Vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, etc.
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, acadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas, etc.
- Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, etc.
- Whole grains: whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread and pasta.
- Fish and seafood: salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, etc.
- Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey, etc.
- Eggs: chicken, quail and duck eggs.
- Dairy: cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, etc.
- Herbs and spices: garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, etc.
- Healthy Fats: extra virgin olive oil, olive, avocados and avocado oil.
Whole, single-ingredient foods are the key to good health.
What to Drink
- Water: should be your constant beverage on a Mediterranean diet.
- Red wine: This is optional; limit to 1 glass per day.
- Coffee and tea: completely acceptable, but you should avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices.
The Mediterranean diet is not only healthy, but also a delicious way to eat!
Although we are living far away from Greece, we can still integrate some of the eating patterns and dietary traditions practiced in Ikaria. This is also the best diet to fight chronic stress. We all know that chronic stress can kill your quality of life along with your weight and health. It is always best to go fresh and natural.
However, if these food choices are not always available, take Oleia Softgels MUFA Supplement daily to ensure you’re getting excellent nutritive value from this diet.
Oleia Softgel contains olive oil, the healthy and primary fat that makes up the Mediterranean diet. It has strong anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties that amazingly benefits the heart, brain, and protects the cells from damage and inflammation-causing diseases.
Enjoy this smart choice of healthy eating and living of Mediterranean diet— the secret to strong, healthy and very long life!
About The Author
Andrea Daguno is a full time home maker. When she is not busy taking care of her husband and kids, she goes out giving financial management talks. She is a proud breastfeeding mom for four years running and an avid Oleia user.