This meal is more than just a “meal of the week”, it is a small part of a diet that has shown time and time again to be one of the healthiest in the world. I’m not saying you should move to the sunny shores of the Mediterranean, abandoning all cares and forsaking all other foods, though that doesn’t sound too bad. But try working in some Greek and Mediterranean dishes into your diet in order to get the following health benefits:
- vitamins, and minerals
- weight loss due to filling, satisfying food choices
- reduce chronic disease
- lower LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol)
- reduce risk of diabetes
- protect against cancer
- reduce the risk of heart disease
- fend off Alzheimer’s disease
So what does a Mediterranean diet look like? Mayo clinic outlines it this way:
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
The diet also recognizes the importance of enjoying meals with family and friends.
Why does this end up being such a healthy diet? Some reasons include the presence of monounsaturated fats in foods typically found in such a diet (i.e., olive oil), as opposed to the intense amount of saturated fat in a typical American diet. A very interesting conclusion in a 2003 study from The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that it may actually be the synergy between the foods of this diet that leads to the health benefits, not necessarily any one food or ingredient by itself.
Cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, says that such health benefits just “cannot be replaced by a supplement.”
So what are you waiting for? Break out the olive oil, the nuts, and the red wine and start working a Big Fat Greek Diet!
Here’s my easy Greek meal to get you started:
For this sandwich, I just take a whole wheat pita (check the packaging to make sure there’s no high fructose corn syrup added!) and spread the inside with hummus. Then stuff it with cucumber slices, sprouts, and greek salad – which includes feta, olives, banana peppers, and olive oil. You can add sliced chicken or turkey if you want some meat (I’ve added Boar’s Head Everroast chicken breast to mine). Simple as that! Enjoy!