Mediterranean diet: the best for a healthy life?

Monday, May 7, 2012

It is sunny outside; the summer is coming, so as delicious fruits and vegetables whose colors decorate market stalls.
So what can we cook for lunch?
Well let’s start with houmous and pitta bread, tabbouleh and olive oil! Two typical meals coming from the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet is famous for its healthy benefits.
What is it exactly?
It is not just a diet, it is also a life approach, a way of life because people do not forced themselves to eat in a specific manner, they do not change their habits for a couple of weeks like we do in our countries when we want to lose weight: this is how they live, how they eat all year. 
It is inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Spain, Italy, Greece, parts of the Middle East and Crete, a Greek island. As we can see, it is a blend of different cooking, from varied origins, and we can see it as an allusion to diversity: cultural exchanges are better than border closing… maybe, not only in cooking…
It is known as one of the best diet in the world thanks to its results: a healthy life, with less chronic disease, in particular cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, hypercholesterolaemia, etc.
One of the “rules” of this diet is seasonal nature and these words are forgotten most of the time in our countries: we eat strawberries in winter, oranges in summer… but this is not how Nature functions and people who are living in the Mediterranean area have already understood it for a long time.
Moreover, as we have said, this is not just a diet: in this part of the world, people consider their meals like a good moment to talk, to be together; this is really a “way to eat”. They take time because it is a moment of sociability and conviviality. 
We have forgotten this dimension in our society: who really takes time to eat? Who considers each meal of the day as a pleasure time to share? Most of the time, everybody is in a hurry, because we are short of time. Why? Perhaps, because of our society, which demands us to be the fastest, the strongest, the best so we have forgotten all that happy moments sharing our meals. 
Then, and it is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, everybody has to do regular physical activity, which is important for a good health, in particular heart and cardiovascular system. 
So what do we have for dinner? 
Well, there is not a single way to cook, nor even a single recipe. Mediterranean diet is based on fresh seasonal whole foods and preparation methods tend to be simple. 
Which food? There are the “high-consumption”, the “moderate consumption” and the “low consumption” ones:
  • A high consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole cereals. 
  • A moderate consumption of dairy products (goat and ewe’s cheese and yogurt), fish and wine.
  • A low consumption of red meat.
Olive oil is used to cook and season meals, so as herb and spices to decrease salt consumption.
What about wine? Is it really good for health?
In fact, it is supposed to, despite many debates over the years. 
Red wine is rich in tannins which are supposed to soften blood vessels; there are also quercetin and resveratrol in red wine, which are antioxidant and protect cells.
But you have to keep in mind that red wine must be drunk in moderation. And if you do not like it, you do not need to start drinking, purple grape juice may be a good and tasty alternative to wine!
I hope you have understood that the Mediterranean diet is truly a way of life, which is very good for your body and your mind. 
I couldn’t finish without giving you a typical recipe from the Mediaterranean area…
Let’s finish with the recipe of houmous, from Middle east. It is a nice alternative to usual cakes and biscuits eaten before lunch to work up an appetite!
130g chick-peas
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
60ml milk
2 teaspoon of fresh coriander leaves
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoons of olive oil
Cook the chick-peas in water and peel it, then mix all the ingredients in a blender.
Serve it with pitta bread.

Cordially yours,

Laure Martinat,