Why The Greek Diet Is The Ultimate Recipe For Health And Wellness
Traditional food is such a huge part of experiencing a culture. If you have travelled to Greece you’re probably still clinging to memories of the unique tastes and flavours you had here. And if you haven’t, it’s probably one of the many reasons you’d like to visit.
Hippocrates once said: “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food”, and he’s not wrong. The Greek diet is living proof that what you eat plays a leading role in looking after your health. Here’s what the Greek diet consists of and why scientists have deemed it as one of the healthiest in the world.
What Is The Greek Diet?
Aside from slight variations, this diet is consistent for many countries throughout the Mediterranean and it’s why the ‘Greek diet’ falls under the umbrella of the ‘Mediterranean diet’.
Whatever you like to call it, this diets health benefits come down to what it consists of. Greece in the summer is a bounty of delicious fruit. Go to any stall or market and you’ll see mountainous piles of cherries, watermelons, oranges and fresh figs. So, it’s no wonder that fresh fruit makes up a predominant portion of the Greek diet.
The Greek diet is also high in vegetables and you need look no further than the humble Greek salad. This is a great example of how vegetables are an integral part of everyday cuisine. This is a staple on any Greek menu (or in any Greek household) and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a family that doesn’t order one when at a taverna. The Greek diet is also high in nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes and beans. Look at a menu of traditional Greek food and you’ll see things like fava (a Greek dip made of yellow split peas) or fasolakia (a green bean dish).
Fish and seafood are also an important part of the Greek diet. There is certainly no shortage around, especially on the Greek islands. When you are this close to the sea, the freshness and quality of the seafood is exceptional, you can see why it is so popular. Last but not least, the Greek diet (unsurprisingly) includes a high consumption of olive oil!
For The Greek Diet Moderation Is Key
While eating some things in excess is an important part of the Greek diets power, the same is true for the things that are eaten in moderation. If you’ve ever tried real Greek yoghurt you’ll know that there isn’t anything that compares. Oh and don’t forget the feta! But while these products are renowned, dairy is eaten sparingly in Greece. The same goes for meat. And while wine is certainly on the menu, that too is consumed in moderation.
The olive tree has a long history in Greece and even appears in stories of Greek mythology. Olives have been cultivated in Greece for thousands of years and Greece produces some of the best olive oil in the world. Olive oil is a powerful component in the Greek diet. Fun fact: the average person in Greece consumes about 20kg per year.
Unlike refined oils like sunflower and canola oil, extra virgin olive oil has natural phenols, and it is these phenols that provide these health benefits. In refined oils these phenols have been stripped away. Studies have shown that consuming 25-50ml of extra virgin olive oil can not only help reduce blood pressure but help support a healthy heart. You can tell your olive oil has a high phenolic content if it’s strong in flavour and slightly bitter.
Health Benefits Of The Greek Diet
The Greek diet has been scientifically proven to increase your longevity and cognition, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and could even reduce the risk of cancer. So, let’s quickly delve into a little of the science behind it. One reason the Greek diet is so effective is due to a cumulative effect of all those fresh fruit and vegetables which are full of antioxidants and polyphenols.
The high consumption of legumes and whole grains also means Greeks have a higher fibre intake and eating fresh fish and seafood add in omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. The best thing about the Greek diet is that you can experience it without even having to leave your house. So why not bring the taste of Greece to you!? But trust us when we say it tastes even better in Greece.
Room For Treats
While the traditional way of eating is overall incredibly healthy, this is not to say that every aspect of the Greek diet is perfect. If you’ve ever walked into a Greek bakery, you’ll have seen a mouth-wateringly diverse array of sweets that fill the shelves. From custard-filled pastries to decadent desserts, there is no shortage of choices. But what is life without a little indulgence, especially when on holiday!