Picking a new diet can feel like an adventure, and sometimes a daunting one. Some diets feel like a trek through the Himalayas, while others pass like a lovely summer on the sandy beaches of Jamaica. Many nutritionists are now advocating a visit to the Mediterranean. Mediterranean cuisine is packed full of dietary power, and for an example there are these five staples of the Mediterranean dining table:
1. Fish – Not only an excellent source of protein, the Mediterranean is home to the fish we get beneficial fatty acids from. Fish have been shown to help significantly reduce the risk of coronary disease and arrhythmia, and they reduce plasma triglyceride levels. The protein nutrients of Mediterranean fish cannot be synthesized by the body and that is why fish is so essential to the diet.
2. Whole-grain Pasta – Pasta is a source of complex carbohydrates, which are needed to give your body energy. Whole grains are better than processed, bleached product for these carbohydrates, and also for better vitamin and fiber content. For a really different taste of the Mediterranean, try a serving of couscous or pilaf, perhaps with some cold-pressed virgin olive oil or a tarragon garnish. Now, how did the rest of the world get grain-based dishes so wrong?
3. Garlic and Onion – Both of these are packed full of antioxidants to fight off free radicals, garlic being the most powerful antioxidant known to science. Mediterranean cuisine is not known for being particularly spicy, however, when they do spice it up they prefer garlic and onion to the traditional Western and European pepper. A brief influence from the East sometimes yields a curry-based dish.
4. Olive Oil – Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated healthy fats that help lower bad cholesterol. It is being hailed as one of the newly-recognized key ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine that makes the diet so healthy. Italy especially is favorable to the humble olive, and while Italian food means something different from the food of the Mediterranean, Italy is after all a part of the region.
5. Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds are full of monounsaturated fat that help fight the risk of cardiovascular disease. While imported sunflower seeds have recently become a favorite snack, the regional variants still form the staple corner of their diet. These include almonds, pistachios, sesame, and most especially pine nuts.
These traditional foods have been a staple of the Mediterranean diet literally since the beginning of recorded history, even to the extent of being mentioned in the Old Testament. They are a particularly refreshing change from the processed, deep-fried, fatty diet common to the West.
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