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The Science Behind Greek Food’s Amazing Healthy Properties

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Greek food and the Mediterranean diet. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greek food is often considered to be one of the healthiest cuisines in the world as it is linked to the Mediterranean diet which has been shown to have myriad health benefits.

The Mediterranean Diet is the best example of a diet that never goes out of style; It has proven itself over time and is still considered to be one of the healthiest of them all.

Greek Delight supports Greece

The Mediterranean is home to significant cultural diversity as it is bordered by Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Lebanon, Turkey and North Africa.

Although each country presents its own food and traditions, the recipes of each culture overlap significantly, so different cuisines share nutritional values ​​and ingredients.

Principles of the Mediterranean Diet

As a rule, the Mediterranean diet is mainly plant-based as it is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes and unprocessed grains, while it is low in meat and meat products (only a few times a month).

Those who stick to the diet also consume less dairy products.

These ingredients are linked by olive oil, an essential ingredient in defining the basics of healthy Greek cuisine and the Mediterranean diet.

Health benefits

The Greek diet is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, carotenoids, antioxidants, vitamin C, polyphenols and other vitamins and minerals and consists of exceptionally healthy foods.

Grains are cooked al dente whole or in the form of bread or pasta, which lowers the glycemic index. Minimally processed foods, which are a staple of the Greek diet, also provide prebiotic fiber, which is beneficial for intestinal health.

According to several studies, the Mediterranean diet is linked to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Some have even linked it to depression prevention.

Important healthy ingredients in Greek cuisine and the Mediterranean diet

Greek food healthy mediterranean dietPhoto credit: Paasikivi / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-4.0

As an integral part and expression of local culture, the Mediterranean diet is mainly based on home cooking made with local ingredients.

Olive trees, vineyards and wheat have always been part of the Mediterranean. But the area was also a meeting point for many different cultures; This means that typical Mediterranean foods contain both local ingredients and ingredients that have long been imported from other regions.

These are some of the superstar foods in this delicious health promoting diet.

Olive oil and olives are a staple food

Olive oil is the common denominator in the various dietary patterns of the Mediterranean diet across the region, with Italy, Spain and Greece being the top three producers in the world.

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in carotenoids and polyphenols and offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Olive oil is the main source of fat in the diet and is also used in cooking and baking.

Despite popular belief, high quality extra virgin olive oil has a high smoke point due to its lower free fatty acid content.

Table olives, particularly kalamata olives, are another rich source of antioxidant polyphenols. Olives are also used for cooking and seasoning dishes or simply for snacking.

wheat

Wheat is the basic grain of the Mediterranean, while another traditional grain is farro (or emmer), an old wheat that has regained popularity in recent years.

Bread is often baked with unrefined wheat and barley flours. Mediterranean wheat is also used for couscous and pasta.

Traditionally, wheat was ground with millstones, creating a high-fiber whole wheat flour with a lower glycemic index.

Wild vegetables are one of the healthiest Greek foods

Greek food healthyOctopus and wild green. Credit: Greek Reporter

Savory pies with vegetables are the main dishes in Greece and other areas of the Mediterranean. Fennel, dandelion greens, rocket and chicory are just a few of them.

Of course, the nutritional composition varies between species; For example, darker greens are rich in carotenoids, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and calcium.

Not all greens are the same in their flavonoid content, so a change in diet is ideal. Greens are also a source of vegetable omega-3 fatty acids.

In North America you can find dandelion greens and purslane, as well as other cultivated vegetables.

Wine: an ancient ingredient

Alcohol is widespread in the traditional Mediterranean diet and dates back to ancient times.

However, it is consumed in moderation and mostly in the form of wine and usually with meals.

Red wine in particular contains antioxidant polyphenols and flavonoids. Wine helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Capers

This important ingredient is commonly used as a flavoring side dish and grows wild all over Greece.

Capers have significant antioxidant properties and are easily found in Greece as a healthy condiment in salads.

Even though they’re low in calories, capers are fermented in sea salt, which makes them high in sodium. Hence, whenever you are trying to monitor your salt intake, it is always a good idea to rinse them under running water before using them.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a good source of fiber, folic acid, and manganese, while also providing protein, iron, and magnesium.

Chickpeas are one of the earliest known cultivated legumes, they are the main ingredient in many traditional Greek dishes.

Lemon offers flavor and health benefits in Greek food

Acidic foods lower the glycemic response by slowing gastric emptying.

Lemon peel is high in flavonoid content, has a beneficial effect on blood sugar, and helps control or prevent diabetes.

Oranges and lemons originally come from the east and were introduced to the region by the Arabs.

A healthy habit in the Mediterranean is to squeeze lemons on salads or fish, as well as in drinking water. This lowers the glycemic load of the entire meal.

garlic

This indispensable ingredient in all Mediterranean cuisines is often found in a wide variety of sauces and dishes.

For example, tzatziki, a staple in Greek cuisine, consists of yogurt mixed with garlic, cucumber, and olive oil, while aioli, an Italian sauce, is made from garlic with eggs and olive oil.

The sulfur compounds in garlic both create its pungent odor, but are also key to its health benefits, which include anti-cancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Herbs

Herbs contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, especially polyphenols. In Greek cuisine, herbs contribute to the overall intake of flavonols.

Herbs vary in every Mediterranean region, but together with spices, they are essential to Mediterranean cuisine.

Many of the classic herbs grown in North America grow wild in the Mediterranean.

Feta and yogurt

Traditional feta cheese and yogurt are fermented, which makes them high in probiotics and provides an extra helping of protein for a mostly plant-based diet.

Authentic Greek feta is made from goat or sheep milk, while yogurt with honey is a common Greek breakfast.

Bring the Mediterranean into your home with healthy Greek food

The traditional Mediterranean diet is based on local foods, but that doesn’t mean people from other regions cannot enjoy its benefits.

Adapting to its basic principles is easy and offers a tasty way to bring healthy meals to the table.

Preparing simple meals at home using fresh ingredients is a core tenet of the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle.

In addition, his balanced diet does not neglect the consumption of meat, sweet treats and wine in moderation.

Basic rules to remember

  • Eat more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts.
  • Replace butter with healthy Greek olive oil.
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt to add flavor.
  • Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month.
  • Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week.
  • Drink red wine in moderation.
  • Also, for better results, include physical activity and enjoy meals with family and friends.
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Whole Grains Health

Protein Variety and Heart Health Are Linked, Study Finds

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We’ve all found ourselves in the habit of eating the same three things over and over (…and over) again. When life gets busy, falling back on simple dishes that satisfy your tastebuds is the natural thing to do. But if you’re cooking up the same couple proteins on the regular, a new study published in the the journal Hypertension suggests that it may be time to introduce a few new varieties into your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

The study pulled existing data from over 12,000 participants who took part in a minimum of two rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey. Researchers sought to explore the relationship between hypertension—or high blood pressure—and the variety and quantity of proteins from eight major dietary sources consumed by participants. (Study participants were an average age of 41 years old.)

Researchers measured protein intake by looking at three consecutive days of eating, scoring each round based on the number of protein varieties consumed (including legumes, fish, eggs, whole grains, refined grains, processed and unprocessed red meat, and poultry).

The results? “Among ‘just the right amount’ consumers of protein, those eating the greatest variety of protein had a the lowest blood pressure,” explains John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. Notably, those who ate the least and the most amount of protein were at the greatest risk for developing high blood pressure, while those who ate the greatest variety of protein were 66 percent less likely to end up developing hypertension between the rounds of the survey .

“The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure.” — Xianhui Qin, MD, study author

Although the survey results sound complicated—and, hey, they were—the takeaway is simple: “The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Xianhui Qin, MD, the study author, said in a press release. In other words: Mix it up! Spin the protein wheel of fortune and try something new.

Related Stories

If you’re not quite sure where to start with upping your protein game, Dr. Higgins recommends looking at your consumption on a daily basis. “The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than about 5.5 ounces of protein daily, about one to two servings, from healthy sources such as plants, seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and some lean meats and poultry,” he says. “The best proteins are lean proteins including beans, soy or tofu, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid proteins that say ‘hydrogenated’ on label or contain high levels of trans fats or saturated fats. “

Of course, there’s always room in your eating plan for less nutritional proteins, too—just try to incorporate these lean sources when you can, and ask your doctor if you have questions about what dietary habits are right for your particular health status and family history .

A delicious way to eat more varied proteins? This delicious quiche recipe:

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Whole Grains Health

The 10 Best Diet Books in 2022

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Staff, Courtesy of Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

The word “diet” has earned itself an undeniably negative reputation, often leading people to think of unsustainable restriction and unhealthy fads. However, if you’re looking to adjust your way of eating, whether you want to feel better, lose weight, or hit a new personal record, there are tons of great diet books out there that can help educate you on ways to improve your nutrition and get you feeling better than ever.

While the diets of the past have focused on restriction, newer ways of eating encouragement consuming more good-for-you foods to crowd out less healthy choices, leaving you feeling satisfied, not deprived. These diet books are also super educational, teaching you why you should eat certain foods, what they can do for your health, and the best ways to make them delicious. To help you on your nutrition journey, we’ve gathered the best diet books and healthy cookbooks available today.

Best Diet Books

    How to Choose a Diet Book

    If you’re looking to switch up your diet, the first thing you should ask yourself is why. What exactly do you want out of a diet?

    Second, consider your lifestyle. Do you need meals that are quick and easy? Do you like to take an hour or two to cook for yourself every night? How often can you grocery shop for fresh ingredients?

    Finally, consider whether you’re looking specifically for a cookbook or one that will provide you education on a particular way of eating without necessarily giving you recipes. While many cookbooks will have some content that discusses the origins of food and their nutritional benefits, these books are unlikely to go as in-depth regarding nutrition as less recipe-focused ones.

    How We Selected

    To find the best diet books among the many options on the market, we researched the most popular books available and considered their content, credibility, design, digestibility, and organization. We then looked at both expert reviews and more than 105,000 customer ratings, written by people who’ve bought these books on Amazon, to settle on the diet books you’ll find below.

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    1

    Best vegetarian

    How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    This is a great all-around cookbook, but it’s an especially great buy if you’re trying to lay off meat. This book contains everything from specific meal recipes to instructions for steaming veggies, truly teaching you how to cook from start to finish. There are recipes for every meal, as well as snacks and desserts, and it includes instructions for so many different dishes you could easily cook from only this book for an entire year and not get bored.

    2

    Best for Longevity

    The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

    This cookbook highlights recipes from specific areas across the globe—called blue zones—where people live the longest. While some of their longevity surely comes from other lifestyle factors, there’s no discounting the role diet plays in their long-lasting health and wellbeing. These recipes not only focus on ingredients, but the ways in which foods are prepared and how that relates to their overall nutritional value.

    The goal of the book is to increase longevity and quality of life while creating delicious recipes that you’ll want to eat time and time again.

    3

    Best Mediterranean

    The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

    The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest diets in the world. It’s full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables, providing a well-rounded, nutritious way of eating.

    This cookbook not only has 500 great Mediterranean recipes, but it also helps you learn which ingredients you should make staples in your grocery list. It also uses only ingredients that you can easily find at standard grocery stores, which makes the Mediterranean diet more accessible.

    4

    Best for Runners

    run fast eat slow

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”—and to some degree, the same holds true for personal records. While nutritious food won’t necessarily knock 30 seconds off your mile time, it can help you fuel your workouts so you get the most out of your training.

    This book was designed by Olympian Shalane Flanagan and is packed with recipes designed to help runners fuel their toughest workouts and recover after. As a bonus, the recipes included in this book just so happen to be delicious, too.

    5

    Best Vegan

    The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook

    When first going vegan, it can be difficult to figure out how to make food that is both delicious and nutritious. This book has 500 recipes ranging from meals to snacks to desserts that use entirely plant-based ingredients. These recipes also offer alternate ingredient options, like eggs and dairy, which is great if you want to add more plant-based recipes into your diet, but aren’t ready to dive headfirst into veganism.

    6

    Best for a full reset

    The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    If you’ve been diet-hopping in hopes of finding a meal plan that can help you commit to a healthier lifestyle and enjoy some weight loss, Whole 30 is a great choice. It has you cut out sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and some other specific foods for 30 days. The idea behind the diet is that it helps jumpstart weight loss while simultaneously getting you to reassess how you think about what you are eating to reach a place of freedom with your food.

    7

    Best for weight loss

    The Obesity Code – Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

    If weight loss is your goal, and you have struggled to find lasting success, this book could be a game-changer. It dives into the science of weight loss, helping you understand hormones, insulin resistance, and other reasons for weight gain. The book recommends intermittent fasting and a low-carb diet, and guides you on how to do them correctly, efficiently, and in the long term.

    8th

    Best for Learning about Food

    How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

    A lot of eating plans focus on what you should eliminate from your diet, but this book places more importance on what you should be adding to your diet and why.

    It discusses foods that are scientifically proven to help you live a longer, healthier life, and the many ways in which food can help prevent disease. It focuses on whole body health—including both mental and physical health—and teaches you to focus on more than just weight and physical appearance when it comes to your food.

    9

    Best for Anti-Dieters

    Not a Diet Book: Take Control. Gain Confidence. ChangeYourLife.

    The rise of anti-diet culture gave inspiration to this book, which helps you improve your relationship with food, tackle weight loss, and debunk fad diets to find a simple and easy way to lose weight and create habits that will keep the pounds from coming back. This book will help you build skills that enable you to live a happier, healthier life without focusing too closely on calories or numbers on a scale.

    10

    Best for fasting

    Complete Guide to Fasting

    Fasting has gained popularity over the last decade and can be a great way to boost your metabolism, clear your mind, and promote weight loss. There are, however, rules you should follow while fasting so that you improve your health rather than endangering it. This book will guide you through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting to ensure you choose the style that will work best for you and do it correctly.


    Before joining Runner’s World as an Editor in 2019, Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

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Eating different kinds of protein protects against hypertension: New study

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Despite all this talk that more Australians are toying with vegetarianism, and despite the endless drum-beating about red meat giving you cancer and a dodgy heart, we continue to have one of the world’s highest levels of meat consumption.

Analysis published in December found Australians eat about 95 kilograms of meat per capita every year. The global average is 35 kilograms.

The article, ‘The Evolution of Urban Australian Meat-Eating Practices’, argues our meat-eating habits are driven by a blocky culture, an association with social status, a perception that plant-based diets are inadequate and lame, and ignorance about cooking legumes and tofu.

On the other hand, the authors point to a survey that found almost 20 per cent of those sampled “identified as meat-reducers”.

Furthermore, the authors say, 87 percent “of the meat reducer segment reported consuming a meat-free dish as their main meal at least once a week”.

They point to another survey that found almost 20 per cent described themselves as “flexitarian”, which is cool.

But it may not translate to more lentils, nuts, whole grains, fish and dairy hitting the dinner table as new favorite sources of protein.

A new study found why we need variety

Chinese researchers found that “eating protein from a greater variety of sources is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure”.

Good to know because blood pressure is literally out of control in Australia.

One in three adults – more than six million Australians – has high blood pressure.

Of those afflicted, only 32 per cent have their hypertension under control. That leaves about four million Australians as ticking time bombs.

In December, in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Alta Schutte, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at UNSW Sydney, called for a national taskforce to tackle the issue.

By improving the control of hypertension, the risks of coronary heart disease, dementia and cerebrovascular disease will be substantially reduced.

The Chinese study suggests changing your diet will go some way to solving the problem.

the study

“Nutrition may be an easily accessible and effective measure to fight against hypertension. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three basic macronutrients,” said study author Dr Xianhui Qin, of the National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Disease at Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.

The study authors analyzed health information for nearly 12,200 adults (average age 41), who had taken part in multiple rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015.

Over three days in the same week, participants shared what they had eaten.

They were given a protein “variety score” based on the different sources of protein they’d eaten: whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, egg and legumes.

One point was given for each source of protein, with a maximum variety score of 8. The researchers then evaluated the association for new onset hypertension in relation to the protein variety score.

New-onset hypertension was defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg, the use of blood pressure-lowering medicine, or self-reporting that a physician had diagnosed high blood pressure.

The average follow-up time was six years.

The results

More than 35 per cent of the participants developed new-onset high hypertension during the follow-up.

Compared to participants with the lowest variety score for protein intake (1), those with the highest variety score (4 or higher) had a 66 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

The amount of protein eaten was also a factor. Consumption was divided into five categories, from least to most intake.

The researchers found that “people who ate the least amount of total protein and those who ate most protein had the highest risk for new onset of hypertension”.

The researchers didn’t ask why a variety of proteins was more healthy. But nutritionists, doctors and health writers have banged on about it for years.

Lean red meat is high in quality protein but provides no fiber or healthy fats. Processed meats are high in saturated fats and salt and are the worst.

Fish is high in long-chain fatty acids, which are good for the brain. Lentils and whole grains are high in fibre.

Hand on heart, a bit of each during the week might stop you from carking it in the street. Which is just undignified and unmanly.

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