Greek Out: How Mediterranean Food Can Transform Your Diet
According to the National Restaurant Association, Greek and Italian food are among the most popular ethnic cuisines for restaurant goers. People love the starchy, savory heartiness of Italian food and the salty, tender treatment of the Greek diet. What you may be surprised to learn, though, is that overall, Mediterranean food is often healthier than the typical American diet in a number of key ways. Let’s explore some of the benefits of incorporating some Mediterranean-influenced techniques into our own eating habits.
Replace butter with olive oil
Believe it or not, it’s rather easy to discern the difference in fat content between butter and olive oil. Butter is a solid at room temperature; olive oil is a liquid. Therefore, butter has a denser makeup of artery-clogging fat. Mediterranean food includes a large amount of olive oil, and a switch to the liquid from butter can mean a significant reduction in your fat intake. As the Mayo Clinic writes, the fats in olive oils are also healthier than those found in butter. Butter contains saturated, or trans fats, whereas olive oil is an important source of healthier “monounsaturated fatty acids,” which your body needs to work.
Pita vs. white bread: whole grains vs. processed grains
Another nutritional leg up Mediterranean food has over the traditional American culinary culture is its use of whole grain breads. Pita, whole grain pasta, and other grains are typical in the Mediterranean diet, whereas Americans often eat white breads, white rice and the like. For more information on the health benefits of whole grains, check out our previous piece on the subject. But for now, we will just say that the more unprocessed whole grains you eat, the better your digestive system, cholesterol numbers, and blood sugar are likely to be.
Mediterranean food: It’s not just what you eat
Mediterranean food has more to do with just food choices. As the Mayo Clinic points out in the article we referenced above, it is true that Greek, Italian, and even Turkish diners eat less red meat than Americans. They also are less likely to season their food with heavy doses of unhealthy salt. But the Mediterranean diet also is intrinsically tied up in the Mediterranean lifestyle.
In many Greek and Italian households, mealtimes are important bonding experiences. As we’ve written before, this is the healthiest way to eat. As Everyday Health points out, the healthiest meals are ones at which you are truly present. “Being mindful of the food you’re eating, and focusing on the meal in front of you, helps increase satiety and the enjoyment of mealtime.”
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.