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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

Harness the power of the body’s hormones for better health

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When a hormone is out of whack, you can feel like you’re stuck in the mud or strapped to a runaway horse. Just ask someone with untreated Graves’ or Hashimoto’s disease (these are high or low thyroid levels), hypogonadism (low testosterone or estrogen deficiency), or uncontrolled diabetes. Because hormones are the chemical messengers of your body and have a direct influence on your metabolism, energy level, hunger, cognition, sexual function / reproduction and mood.

There are around 50 hormones in your body and many more hormone-like substances (brain neurotransmitters like serotonin and active vitamin D2 for example). Your pituitary is the “master gland,” it tells other glands to secrete hormones. The other hormone-producing glands are the pineal and adrenal glands, as well as the thymus, thyroid and pancreas – men also produce hormones in their testicles (testosterone) and women in their ovaries (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone). Aside, about 25% of testosterone in women is produced in the ovaries, a quarter in the adrenal gland and half in the peripheral tissue.

It only takes a tiny amount of a few hormones to make big changes in every inch of your body. Therefore, if they are out of whack, it can cause you serious problems. In America, type 2 diabetes is the most common hormone-related disease. This happens when you become insulin resistant and this hormone, which is produced in the pancreas, can no longer regulate blood sugar levels, causing a cascade of health problems from atherosclerosis to neuropathy to kidney disease.

Here’s how you can calm your hormones – and restore your health:

Eat Smartly. The endocrine glands are happy when you eat healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds; high fiber foods like fruits and vegetables; lean animal protein such as salmon; and plant-based proteins like 100% whole grains and legumes / beans. This mix of nutrients lets your appetite regulating hormones leptin (I’m full) and ghrelin (I’m hungry) signal you accordingly so you don’t overeat. Overeating and obesity regulate many hormonal systems.

In addition, a healthy diet will nourish your thyroid hormones, which also help regulate weight. Perhaps most importantly, a healthy diet regulates the work of trillions of microbes in your gut biome that help regulate hormone production and produce hormone-like substances.

Cope with stress, sleep peacefully. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal gland in response to stress. When chronically elevated, it can reduce the activity of your hypothalamus, which in turn can lead to imbalances in the messenger substances that affect sleep, eating, sexual activity, and cognition and mood. Then you can get tired and gain weight. Therefore, it is important to regularly exercise, meditate, take deep breaths, hang out with friends, volunteer to help others, and / or talk to a therapist. Healthy sleeping habits are also important for reducing stress and regulating hormones. Growth hormones, testosterone, cortisol and insulin are released during sleep. And studies show a link between chronic lack of sleep and depression and weight gain. For sleep hygiene information, visit DoctorOz.com.

Reduce Chronic Inflammation. Chronic inflammation occurs when your immune response is overstimulated to conditions that interfere with the peaceful functioning of your body. This can happen if you are overweight or obese, addicted to sugar and fast foods, smoke or drink too much, or are constantly under stress. These factors can trigger hormonal changes, such as insulin resistance, low testosterone and vitamin D levels, and increased cortisol, and they power your sympathetic nervous system, increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pupil size, and making your blood vessels narrow .

Plus: Eating healthy foods and managing stress and sleep will help reduce inflammation throughout your body and stabilize your hormones, but you can’t get real success if you’re sitting – 150 minutes or more of exercise per week is essential.

So make friends with your hormones and these powerful messengers will send you good news about your energy levels, sleep satisfaction, aging rate, and happiness.

Mehmet Oz, MD is hosting “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, MD is the Cleveland Clinic’s Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus. For the healthiest way to live, tune in to The Dr. Oz Show or visit sharecare.com.

(c) 2021 Michael Roizen, MD

and Mehmet Oz, MD

King Features Syndicate

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Whole Grains Health

Types of Millets And How Beneficial it is in Losing Weight

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Weight Loss Tips: Millet is an essential part of the whole grain family like rice, oats or quinoa. It is originally grown in Asia thousands of years ago. It’s gluten-free, filled with protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Millet is not only famous in India but has also gained in value in western countries.Read also – Weight Loss in Real Life: I was 104 kg, a visit to my daughter’s school changed everything

Millet is high in protein. It contains five grams of protein and one gram of fiber. Both of these ingredients help keep the stomach fuller for longer and reduce the snack habit between meals. This helps in shedding those extra pounds without compromising on your diet. Also Read – Weight Loss: Is It Safe To Eat Only Liquid Food When Losing Weight? Expert speaks | Exclusive

What Are The Health Benefits Of Millet?

Millet is high in antioxidants that help flush harmful radicals out of the body. It contains antioxidant components like quercetin, curcumin, ellagic acid, and other beneficial catechins. These help in eliminating toxins and neutralizing enzymes. It prevents health problems. Also Read – 6 Possible Reasons For Unexpected Weight Gain Explains The Nutritionist

Not only is millet very nutritious, it also has a good amount of fiber stored in it. It helps with digestion and prevents constipation, gas and acidity. It helps avoid digestive problems and prevents gastrointestinal cancer and kidney / liver problems.

  • Reduction of cardiovascular risks

Millet is high in and essential fats that help provide the body with natural fats. It also helps in preventing fat from being stored in the body. Along with this, it lowers the risk of high cholesterol, paralysis, and other heart problems. It contains potassium, which helps to keep an eye on blood pressure and increases blood flow.

What are the different types of millet?

Ragi is known for its iron content. It helps in the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells. It is high in calcium and potassium. Due to the high proportion of fiber, it keeps the stomach fuller for a longer period of time.

Jowar is loaded with nutrients like vitamin B, magnesium, and antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins. It helps boost metabolism and improves the quality of hair and skin. The presence of magnesium helps in strengthening bone and heart health.

Bajra is high in protein, fiber, magnesium, iron, and calcium. It’s low in calories and considered the best grain for shedding pounds. It keeps your stomach fuller for a long period of time without increasing your daily calorie count.

Amaranth is high in fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. It helps improve brain function and prevents certain neurological diseases. It helps build muscle and maintain digestive health. It is also noted that amaranth has more nutrients than quinoa.

Kangni is known as semolina or rice flour. It helps in strengthening the immune system and balancing blood sugar levels as it is high in iron and calcium. It also serves as a better option for shedding those extra pounds. It usually includes low cholesterol, good digestion, and helps in building good heart health.

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Whole Grains Health

Adherence To a Mediterranean Diet Lowers Risk of Diabetes

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Author: Kenya Henderson, 2021 PharmD. Candidate, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

The Role of the Mediterranean Diet: Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight can potentially reduce the risk of developing diabetes for the US population.

A Mediterranean diet is one of the few healthy eating habits that has been linked to significant health improvements. It is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes, and olive oil and is more common in European countries. It is recommended by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help reduce the risk of chronic disease. In addition, it is linked to a reduced risk of diabetes in Mediterranean and European countries. However, it is unclear that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes in the US population. In a large US cohort study with black and white men and women, this study investigated whether Mediterranean eating behavior is linked to the risk of diabetes.

This study was a prospective cohort study that included patients in previous research, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which looked at the causes of heart disease in over 400,000 adults in the United States. In this study, data were collected from 11,991 participants on their first visit. Participants were excluded if they were Asian or Indian due to the small sample size; were black and from Maryland and Minnesota, unable to decipher the influence of geographic region on race; if they have a history or history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer; or if they were derived from the answers to the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) or if they had ten or more missing FFQ elements.

One of the statistical methods was an FFQ questionnaire to record the food intake of each patient on their first and third visits. The data recorded from the survey was used in the scores for the Mediterranean Alternative Diet (aMed). The scores ranged from 0 to 9 points, with 1 point being awarded if the patient reported consuming vegetables, fruits, or legumes himself, and 1 point if the patient reported consuming red or processed meat. The higher the aMed score, the higher the adherence to a Mediterranean diet. They also used Cox’s proportional hazard regression models to estimate the hazard ratios and confidence intervals for the associations between aMed scores and incidents of diabetes. Incidence diabetes was defined as: if the patient was diagnosed by a doctor, had taken diabetes medication in the past two weeks, had a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg / dL or more, or a non-fasting blood sugar of 200 mg / dL or above. Variables were also used in the Cox regression analyzes, including energy intake, age, gender, race, educational level, smoking status and physical activity, and clinical mediators of diabetes. They were all stratified by race and body mass index (BMI).

During a median follow-up of 22 years, this analysis found 4,024 cases of diabetes among the 11,991 participants. In summary, aMed scores and incidents of diabetes were higher in blacks than whites, but the risk of diabetes was reduced by up to 17% in both races. In addition, the associations between aMed scores and incidents of diabetes were found to be stronger in patients with a healthy baseline BMI, indicating that obesity or overweight outweighs the benefits of a healthy Mediterranean diet, as shown in the ARIC study and other U.S. Population. Therefore, the results of this study indicate that following a Mediterranean diet without weight loss may not reduce the risk of diabetes in overweight or obese populations. While following a Mediterranean diet could lower the risk of diabetes in people with healthy BMI, the discussion about restricting calories to achieve and maintain a healthy weight should remain one of the most important tasks of diabetes prevention. Overall, eating and following a Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of diabetes in a community-based US population, especially for black and normal weight individuals. Future studies should be conducted to determine whether a Mediterranean diet that results in clinically meaningful weight loss can reduce the future risk of diabetes in those who are overweight or obese.

Practice pearls:

  • Diets high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, fish, and olive oil have been linked to a lower risk of developing diabetes in the US population.
  • There are stronger associations between adherence to the Mediterranean pattern and incidents of diabetes among blacks compared to the US white population.

O’Connor, LE, Hu, EA, Steffen, LM et al. Adherence to Mediterranean eating habits and risk of diabetes in a prospective US cohort study. Nutr. Diabetes 10, 8, (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41387-020-0113-x

Kenya Henderson, 2021 PharmD. Candidate, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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