Est. 1990: Why the Mediterranean Diet is Still the Best
Ever since the 1990s, the Mediterranean diet has been viewed as the best eating plan for overall wellbeing. While your mind may go straight to the cuisine of Greece and Italy whenever you hear the term “Mediterranean diet,” other nations – including Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria – have something to offer your nutritional wellness. But what components of a healthy diet do these nationalities share?
1. Olive oil: You simply can’t have a Mediterranean diet without including olive oil. While we often limit its use to a cooking oil, olive oil can be used in recipes and even taken raw if you want to experience major health benefits. The reason why olive oil is so vital is that it contains a wealth of amazing vitamins and minerals; vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, K, and iron. Your body needs all of these nutrients in order to ensure your vital organs are functioning properly. As well as this, olive oil helps to keep your body’s waste disposal system in good working condition, and even contains antioxidants that will help guard the body against cancer.
2. Basil: This Mediterranean herb – as well as being a perfect seasoning for tomatoes and chicken – is extremely beneficial to your health. In just this one herb you’ll find vitamins A and K, manganese, magnesium, and antioxidants. However, if you are on a blood-thinning prescription medication you should avoid using basil in your cooking, as the herb acts as a natural blood thinner.
3. Oregano: Like basil, this delicious seasoning is a staple part of the Mediterranean taste palate. You’ll almost always find this herb in tomato sauce, but you can also make oregano into an antiseptic for external or internal application. This is because oregano has anti-bacterial properties which help boost your immune system. However, it’s far more appealing to use this seasoning in pasta dishes, and you’ll still be getting the benefit of vitamins A and C, calcium, manganese, and iron. Plus, oregano also contains fibre which is important for your digestive system.
4. Garlic: Using garlic for medicinal purposes is no new thing – people have been doing it for centuries. When you include garlic in your diet, you’re strengthening your immune system and helping your body to ward off colds and flu. This is due to the fact that garlic contains a power duo of wellness; allacin and diallyl sulphides. While the former is an antibiotic, the latter is good for your cardiovascular health. Both of these properties increase in potency when you chop or press the garlic, albeit only the diallyl sulphides remain when the garlic has been thoroughly cooked. Therefore, if your recipe does call for garlic, you should aim to add the chopped or pressed garlic to the recipe at the very end.
5. Wholegrains: Unlike refined grains – such as white bread – that have no nutritional value and contain empty calories that put on weight but do not benefit your body on the whole, wholegrains actually aid in weight loss and pack a powerful punch of protein, fibre, useful carbohydrates and iron. This is why you’ll find wholegrain cereals, garlic bread, pasta, and bagels as part of most of the traditional Mediterranean diets.
6. Peppers and Tomatoes: While the Mediterranean diet emphasises many fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes, peppers and tomatoes deserve a special mention. Bell peppers are very high in antioxidants, as well as vitamin C and B6. This is important because vitamin C is good for your body’s immune system, while B6 can give your body’s metabolism a much-needed boost. Finally, tomatoes contain lycopene, potassium, vitamins A and C, and are an antioxidant in lowering a number of different cancers.