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Peculiarities Of Mediterranean Cuisine

In: How to November 18th, 2016

In the middle of the last century, an interesting paradox was revealed. It turned out that the inhabitants of the coastal areas of the Mediterranean sea, despite the fact that they consume a lot of fat and alcohol, have low rates of heart disease and rarely suffer from excess weight. The secret lies in a special diet, which was called "Mediterranean diet".

Mediterranean sea is being surrounded by more than 15 countries, the cuisine of which differs in their identity and their own culinary traditions, but the power of inhabitants of coastal areas has a lot of similarities. The separate gastronomic direction of Mediterranean cuisine has been allocated only in the 50s of the 20th century after the publication of sensational research results of scientists Ansel and Margaret Kay. It was found that people who held to the Mediterranean diet, were less likely to suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, high blood pressure and Alzheimer's disease. In the future, these findings have been repeatedly reaffirmed in numerous medical studies. The full-scale experiment, which lasted more than four years, was attended by almost 22 thousand people. All participants kept to the traditional Mediterranean diet and constantly passed a medical examination. In addition to the confirmation of the well known advantages, it has been found that such a nutrition prolongs the years, allowing to live up to the old age and to lead an active lifestyle.

In fact, residents of the Mediterranean region do not adhere to any diet, according to Wikipedia, it is more about the daily habits of taste. They eat a lot and rarely limit themselves in carbohydrates or fats, and drinking wine almost every day. This is the main attraction of this diet. Not adhering to, in fact, any diet, you can maintain health, youth and figure. The main rule is not to consume fast food or convenience foods. Food on the table should only be fresh and natural. The ratio of nutrients of daily Mediterranean diet is:

- 60% is for carbohydrates, and in addition to fruits and vegetables there is a huge share at the expense of fresh bread, pasta made from durum wheat and cereals.

- Up to 30% of fats, mostly derived from olive oil and sea fish.

- Only 10% of the allocated proteins - fresh fish, seafood, eggs, hard and soft cheeses, and in very rare cases, meat and poultry.

To facilitate the preparation of a daily menu, nutritionists have made a pyramid of the Mediterranean diet. Incidentally, such a system of nutrition is one of the most convenient for people leading a modern lifestyle, allowing not only to cook their own meals at home, but also to eat in restaurants.

A distinctive feature of the Mediterranean diet is the widespread use of olive oil with virtually no other fats - butter, animal fat or margarine. In many ways, researchers have linked the positive impact of this way of eating food (with olive oil) on the health, because it is a rich source of unsaturated fats, which protects our body against heart disease. Furthermore, there are many useful antioxidants and vitamins for the skin and hair. Olive oil is not only added to salads, but cooked only on it.

Another essential attributes of the Mediterranean table are fresh vegetables and herbs. Without fail, they are present in every dish. Special love among the people of the Mediterranean region is given to tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, onion, garlic and, of course, olives. Each dish contains a variety of dried spices and fresh herbs: oregano, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary and others.

From ancient times, Mediterranean region was well known for its dairy products. It should be noted that people do not consume the milk there, but eat low-fat cheese and yogurt every day. Every coastal area of the Mediterranean sea has its own cheeses, such as feta in Greece or halloumi in Cyprus. They are added to salads, hot meals and served to the table as a separate dish as snacks, seasoned with olives and fresh herbs. These products contain very little fat, but they are very rich in protein. As for the yogurt, the Mediterranean cuisine recognizes only fresh and natural one. At breakfast, it is accepted to add slices of fresh ripe fruits and berries and spoon of honey and crushed nuts. At lunch, sauces on the basis of yogurt are being made for fish and seafood dishes. For example, the popular Cypriot talatturi sauce, when yogurt is mixed with fresh cucumbers and chopped mint.

Red meat in Mediterranean cuisine is quite rare, and for the most part, it's lamb. Fresh fish and seafood is consumed often, as there is no problem with seafood at the seaside. The variety of fish is also impressive: mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies. All these varieties are very healthy, because oily fish is a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3, which is very beneficial for the heart, blood vessels and brain.

In total, authors identified nine factors that determine a healthy diet: vegetables, legumes, fruit and nuts, baked goods, fish and seafood, dairy products, low consumption of meat, moderate alcohol consumption, the ratio of vegetable and animal fats. On the basis of statistical calculations, they showed exactly what components contributed to the fact that people continued to live long and healthy life, and have identified the importance of various product groups. It is ironic, but the leadership turned to moderate drinking. It contributes 23.5 per cent in favor of the effect of the Mediterranean diet. However, it should be understood that a "moderate" drinking a dose of 10 to 50 grams of wine per day. More wine has a negative effect.

Data obtained from Argentine University confirmed that "Cabernet Sauvignon" maximum, and other red wines to a lesser extent prevent oxidation of SH-groups by 70-90%. In addition, wine components protect lipid domains - liposomes - from 30% to 97%, and vitamin E against oxidation - by 20-70%. The antioxidant properties of wine are directly dependent on the content of catechins and phenols. When drinking wine, according to the Mediterranean diet, it changes the content of iron and ferritin in plasma.

The grape seeds also contains proanthocyanidin, which antioxidant capacity is better than that of vitamins E, C and beta-carotene.

The second most important factor was almost complete rejection from meat and products from it - it makes 16.6% of the effect.

The third is the use of large amounts of vegetables - 16.2%, slightly less significant factors were fruits and nuts (11.2%), the use of vegetable fats instead of animal (10.6%) and legumes (9.7%) (the most typical plant Greece fat - olive oil, and legumes - beans). Bread was among outsider (6.1%), as well as dairy products (4.5%). It is noteworthy that the fish and seafood in general have no significant effect on mortality.

As you can see, Mediterranean diet is not only useful, but also extremely delicious. You will be surprised, but it is almost impossible to gain weight on such a diet, while at the same time your body gets all the required nutrients.

Here is the recipe of the most popular salad of the Mediterranean cuisine – Greek salad: For 3-4 servings, you should cut in slices 2 large tomatoes, 2 cucumbers and 1 green pepper. Put all ingredients in a large bowl, add 8-10 olives, a pinch of pepper, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar to underline the taste, salt and pepper, mix well. 1 red onion should be cut into onion rings, and 120 g of feta cheese should be cut in cubes. Lay out the cheese and onions on top of the salad. Serve with crackers or fresh whole meal bread.