Mediterranean Diet


Comments Off | Last Update: April 18, 2012

Italian Vegetable Stand

Excerpt From

Live Longer & Healthier Eating Foods You Love

Live Longer Book Cover Art


“The Mediterranean Diet may help prevent memory loss, according to a February 2009 study of nearly 1,900 older adults conducted by researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center.”

Consumer Reports On Heath,  May 2009

 

The information in the article has been updated November 2104 to the 2015 edition.

The Variety of Mediterranean Diets

Sixteen Middle Eastern, European, and African countries border the Mediterranean Sea. There is no one Mediterranean Diet. Mediterranean diets vary by country and region. Major regions include:

  • North African
  • Middle Eastern
  • Eastern European
  • Western European

The type and variety of foods varies by country, regions within a country,  and even by cities and towns.

Mediterranean diets are based on locally grown or caught foods. Or at least they were prior to modern transportation and refrigeration.

Italian Mediterranean Diet

Most Americans are familiar with northern and southern Italian cuisines. Italian-American restaurants are classified as northern or southern Italian with southern Italian associated with pastas and pizzas and northern Italian with cream sauces, risottos, and meat dishes. Northern Italian is also associated with up-scale dining and commands higher prices.

Although northern Italy borders the Mediterranean, at least the western part of the country, it is the simple rustic cooking of southern Italy with an abundance of fruit and vegetables that is considered an ideal Mediterranean diet as far as healthy eating, lower risk for diseases, and sustainable diet.

Wine and Food

No Italian lunch or dinner would be complete without wine.  Red wine, homemade if possible,  is served at every meal and consumed in moderation-by most Italians.  Italy produces some of the world’s best red wines.

Southern Italians rarely drink white wine at meals. White wines are used mostly for cooking fish and chicken dishes.

Wine like food is not abused and children are allowed to drink wine with meals, but most prefer colas and water.

Wine is to be enjoyed with the meal and helps with the digestion.  In the United States, drinking wine still ranks far below beer and liquor but it is rapidly gaining in popularity.

Minimally Processed Foods

Using the freshest, highest quality ingredients when available makes a huge difference to your dinning experience.  When available, or in the interest of time frozen and canned ingredients are acceptable substitutes. Frozen vegetables are picked and frozen at the height of maturity, minimally processed, and most have no added salt.

Canned vegetables are cooked, usually over cooked, drowning in salty liquid and can be very high in sodium.

There is a significant difference in fast and texture between frozen and canned vegetables.  

Whether you use fresh, frozen, or canned ingredients you will find preparing your own Italian meals, where you control the quality and quantity of the ingredients, a healthy,  economical alternative to dining out. Dining out on a regular basis saves time, but it rarely saves money.

Save Money

My daily food cost for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is less than he cost of one fast food breakfast meal. A recent study said the average food cost for Americans is $150 per person per week. That equals $7,800 per year.

My monthly food cost, excluding dining out, is around $150 or $1,800 per year. Adding $2 per day for water and electricity equals $2,530 per year. A savings of $5,270 per year. That’s over $52,000 in ten years. Many Americans will work beyond 65 years old because they do not have enough money saved to retire let alone early retirement. Imagine saving over $200,000 cooking at home. And it is healthy for you reducing your need for prescription medications.

Take Away

There is no one, unique, Mediterranean diet. There is a variety of diets encompassing a wide variety of foods.

What most Mediterranean diets have in common is eating an abundance of:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Nuts
  • Cooing with monounsaturated fats (olive oil)

Plus you can occasionally enjoy your cake and eat it to.