Adapt this healthy way of eating from Europe’s richly diverse culinary regions.
By Joan Teotico
Eating a Mediterranean diet has been linked to a number of health benefits, such as: improving cardiovascular health and reducing build-up of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol; lowering the risk of depression, mental health decline and cerebrovascular disease; increasing longevity; and keeping weight gain at bay.
There are more than 15 countries located at the border of the Mediterranean Sea; among them are Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Turkey, Israel and Monaco. Although nuances in the Mediterranean diet exist in these nations and regions within them, the cuisine’s essential ingredients and components include the following:
• Eating plenty of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains;
• Using olive oil as a healthy source of fat instead of butter;
• Selecting low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese;
• Adding spices and fresh herbs to enhance flavor of meals; and
• Consuming seafood such as fish instead of red meat.
In addition, healthy cooking methods that are of note include grilling, broiling, roasting, baking, steaming and sautéing. Salads are served with whole grains such as bulgur and quinoa then simply dressed with olive oil or vinaigrette.
Roselyn Tiangco, pastry chef and owner of Kitchen's Best Home Patisserie, takes your taste buds on a journey to Europe’s sun-drenched coastal regions with her Mediterranean-inspired recipes, which she created exclusively for HealthToday. The key to preparing and cooking these sumptuous yet healthy meals is “Fresh ingredients—that's the secret. … And, as much as possible, no preservatives,” she says.
Good food and good health may apparently co-exist. Fish and seafood are the primary source of protein, and omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in the pan-grilled salmon. The cauliflower mash side dish is made with mushrooms that deliver vitamin D, a nutrient that helps keep our bones and immune system strong. To enhance the flavors of her fare, Tiango uses fresh herbs and heart-healthy olive oil.
But before you make major changes in your diet, talk to your doctor and dietitian. He or she can help you determine the total calories, the ideal food portions and serving sizes you need.
Enjoying meals with family and friends—even exercising—is a key practice that is included in the Mediterranean dietary pyramid. Involve your loved ones in menu planning, buying ingredients, recreating these recipes in your kitchen and, finally, savoring each bite towards good health, wellness and vitality.