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What is the Mediterranean Diet and What are the Health Benefits

By Edited Aug 26, 2015 0 0
Middle Eastern Food

The Health Benefits of Introducing Middle Eastern Foods In Our Diets

Some healthy and easy recipes to start you on a good diet

Every time we mention the word diet, we sort of envision a strict regimen where we could hardly eat and food that is tasteless and boring.

Unlike other diets, the Mediterranean diet is not specifically designed to lose weight but to get you on a healthier road to being fit and well.

Recent studies have shown that people who follow this diet have had less heart problems, have more improved mood and a high energy level. It may also help lower your risk of certain diseases, it promises longevity and lowers the rates of chronic diseases.  

The Mediterranean diet is a way of life rather than a regimented strict eating plan. It is meant to be enjoyed and savoured. Every dish is full of flavours and contrary to some diets actually tasty.

The main emphasis is on raw foods, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains and fruits. There is less emphasis on red meat and more emphasis on fish and fish oils.

The mediterranean food is an acquired taste and in time becomes so enjoyable that you stop craving food that are saturated with fat.

The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating plan for a healthy heart and includes all the foods cooked by the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea.  Recent studies of adults following this diet has demonstrated that it has reduced the overall cardiovascular mortality and incidences of cancer and caner mortality. It has also demonstrated a reduced incidences of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

The Basic Elements of the Mediterranean Diet

The emphasis is on eating plant-based foods, such as legumes, nuts, vegetables and fruits. Using olive oil in all cookings and cutting down on butter or margarine consumption. Flavoring foods with herbs and spices, eating fish and chicken twice a week and cutting down on the consumption of red meat.

Start by familiarising yourself with a few ingredients and step by step learn more about other ingredients.

Try to include on your shopping list such items as Kalamatta Olives, Fetta Cheese, Haloumi Cheese, Labneh, Lebanese Pitta Bread, Za'tar (Wild Thyme), Foul Medammas (Small Broad Beans), Red Lentils, Brown Lentils, Tahini.

A plate of olives and haloumi cheese with a sliced tomato, cucumber, green chillies, peppermint, oregano and lettuce, would make such a delicious meal and is full of goodness.

The place to start is to visit a Middle Eastern shop and acquaint yourself with different ingredients at every trip . Ask the shop owner about these products, they will be very happy to help. And maybe buy a few ingredients on each visit and bring them home and have a taste.

Another treat is put the Za'tar in a bowl and drizzle it with enough olive oil to make it soggy. Prepare a cup of black tea with a little bit of sugar, and dip your Lebanese bread in the Za'tar bowl and have some olives with it. A real simple and tasty meal.

Or put the labneh in a shallow dish and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and dry peppermint powder. Have it with pitta bread, black olives and cucumber.

You can come up with so many combinations with these few ingredients and some fresh vegetables. They are also satisfying and fill you up for a long time.

Almost all the Middle Eastern shops have got ready-made Foul Mudammas in cans. The way to prepare it is as follows:
pour the contents of the can into a pot, heat it up, add crushed garlic, juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper and red chilli and a drizzle of oil. This dish can be eaten with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, green chillies, fresh peppermint leaves, sliced capsicum. It is full of nutrients, vitamins and iron. A plate of this dish in the morning will keep you full for the whole day.

There are hundreds of such healthy recipes on the internet and middle eastern cooking books. Eventually you will familiarize yourself with different ingredients and recipes and I assure you, you'll never look back or want to eat another fatty dish.

Coming to alcohol a glass of red wine a day for health purposes would be great. According to studies it will help longevity, to control your cholesterol levels and boost your immune system.

I will add more tips and recipes to this article later on if I get requests for more tips, information and recipes.

For the time being, this is just a guideline to start you on the road to a healthier plan of eating.

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