Mediterranean Diet

What is the Mediterranean Diet and Why is it So Good for You ?

The Mediterranean diet is all the rage these days – it has a reputation for being sinfully delicious while possessing the virtue of being extremely healthful. Yet when asked to define it, many folks have hard time coming up with a good description. Not surprising. Any country contiguous with the Mediterranean Sea, from Morroco to Greece and from Spain to Israel, can rightly claim that its cuisine qualifies as a form of the Mediterranean diet. Indeed there are hundreds perhaps thousands of variations of the Mediterranean diet as micro-cuisines vary from village to village.

In Italy alone there are subtle nuances that distinguish the cuisines of different regions and villages. Roman, Tuscan, Ligurian, Neapolitan and Sicilian cuisine, to name handful of broad categories, are all variations on the Italian version of the Mediterranean Diet. It is the south/central Italian version of the Mediterranean diet which we will focus on in this course. It is among the most healthy of all Mediterranean cuisines, and we believe is the most delicious.

Despite the many variations of the Mediterranean diet, there are some common characteristics that are found in all the healthiest versions. Perhaps the single most important feature that unites all these cuisines is olive oil. It is a vehicle for the tastes that permeate these cuisines and it is the elixir of health that makes them so beneficial. Olive oil is the source of almost all fat in the health Mediterranean diet, there is very little saturated fat from meat and not many other vegetable oils either. Not only is olive oil a beneficial monounsaturated fat, it carries many important anti-oxidants along with it. But perhaps the most important characteristic is simply that it makes vegetables taste absolutely delicious. This encourages the avid consumption of vegetables that is so characteristic of the healthy Mediterrranean diet.

Broccoli, spinach, tomatoes (technically a fruit), and scores of other vegetables and plant foods have, individually and collectively, been associated with lower rates of disease – especially heart disease and cancer. Italians in particular have a love affair with these foods and specialize in making them irresistible.

But that’s not all. The lowly bean is held in high esteem in the Mediterranean and when combined with olive oil and the proper accompaniments is a culinary delight. It is also a staple of good health. The same can be said of nuts of all varieties.

While the healthy Mediterranean diet is not big on milk and butter, cheese and yogurt are important components.
In Italy cheese is used largely as a condiment to make other foods such as pasta, tomato sauce and vegetables even more delicious. Yogurt which is found throughout the Mediterranean has long been associated with extended life expectancy, and some studies suggest that it may lower cholesterol, enhance immunity and have anti-oxidant properties.

A Mediterranean meal, especially in Italy, would not be complete without red wine. Modern science is finally establishing what
Mediterraneans have believed for millennia – red wine in moderation appears to be good for your health.
Each glass of wine contains the concentrated phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants of hundreds of grapes.
These substances seem to prevent cholesterol from doing damage and prevent blood clots from forming.

Put it all together, the olive oil, the fruits, the vegetables, red wine and you have a diet drenched in deep passionate colors.
These colors not only bring a seductive beauty to the table, they carry the greatest concentration of anti-oxidants and healthy phyto-nutrients. It seems that nature in all her wisdom has imbued the most colorful foods with the highest concentration of health enhancing substances.

Just as important is what you will not find in the healthy Mediterranean diet. Fast food is verboten and red meat is consumed infrequently, almost as a condiment. Butter and cream sauces are also the exception.
Of course in northern France and Northern Italy you will find people eating this way – but these regions are far from the Mediterranean and the sunny climes that produce the healthiest foods and lifestyles.

Finally we cannot overlook the Mediterranean perspective on life. Italians in particular have a reverence for food and good conversation. The two of course come together at the dinner table, each enhancing the quality of the other.

After dinner a long walk in the fellowship of friends and family provides those pleasures many of us seem to be lacking. These simple pleasures – good food, good talk, and long walks are the secret to a long, happy, and healthy life. Come join us and we will show you how it is done!.


Eataly Vino offers over 700, exclusively Italian wines. Every region and 350 producers are represented. Visit our shop next to Eataly or order wines right to your door anywhere in the city.

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