What is a Southern Italian Mediterranean Diet?
Revised: September 1, 2015
A Mediterranean Diet is not like a low-fat diet, gluten-free diet, low-carb diet or any of the myriad of weight loss diet plans marketer to overweight Americans. In fact, it is not a weight loss diet at all.
A Mediterranean style diet is a high complex carbohydrate (fruits, vegetables, legumes) and low red meat diet. Meat protein is supplied by seafood and poultry.
For decades, Italian cuisine has been divided between Southern and Northern Italian. Northern Italy is the home of risotto and cream sauces. Southern Italy, is known for its tomato sauces, pasta with vegetables, and pizza. Southern Italy is the agricultural heart of Italy.
Modern Italy is not the sole occupant of the Mediterranean; unlike the Romans. There are European, Africa, and Middle East Mediterranean diets. Many research studies recommend a Southern Italian Mediterranean diet for two reasons:
- Most Southern Italians maintain a normal weight, have low incidences of diet related diseases, and fewer medical issues.
- Americans like Southern Italian food making the diet sustainable. it is practically impossible maintaining a diet, if you do not like the food.
Most foods eaten by Southern Italians are readily available in the United States. But, most Americans eat a Southern Italian-American diet. The main difference is portion sizes. Americans tend to eat more meat and pasta (spaghetti and meatballs), and less fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, and poultry.
Basic Characteristics Of All Mediterranean Diets
The diets of most Mediterranean people have the following in common with current public health point of view in parenthesis are:
- Daily physical activity at a level which promotes a healthy weight, physical fitness and mental well-being.
- Eating an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and grains, beans, legumes and nuts.
- Emphasis on a variety of minimally processed and, whenever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods (maximizes the health-promoting micronutrient and antioxidant content).
- Using monounsaturated fats like olive or canola oil as the principal fat, and replacing saturated fats and oils (butter, margarine, lard, etc.).
- Total fat calories ranging from 25 to 35 percent of total calories, with saturated fat no more than 10 percent of total calories.
- Eating low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry weekly (fish is somewhat favored over poultry due to omega-3 fatty acids found in fish).
- Zero to four eggs per week (including those used in cooking and baking).
- Eat fresh fruit for dessert daily and sweet desserts with a significant amount of sugar and saturated fat few times per week or month.
- Eating red meat a few times per month (limit red meat consumption to 12 ounces (340 grams) per month; lean versions reduce saturated fat).
- Moderate consumption of wine, normally with meals; 4 to 8 ounces total for men and 4 ounces per day for women (drinking wine is optional and should be avoided if you or others are at risk).
About The Recipes
Most of the recipes on this site are foods you would eat if you traveled to Southeastern Italy. More specifically, the region of Apulia and it’s capital Bari. Are the recipes authentic or Italian-American? Many are authentic or as close as possible with ingredients available in the United States. They are recipes my father and mother brought with them from Italy.
In addition to dozens of Southern Italian recipes are a variety of other foods. Eating a Mediterranean diet does not mean every meal and food must be authentic regardless of the region. Unlike the Japanese, Italians were never a homogeneous peoples. The foods of southern Italy have been influenced by many cultures including Greek, Northern African, and Arabic.
A diet is not sustainable when the foods and recipes are monotonous and restricted to a few recipes or foods. Variety is the spice of life. So you will find Indian and Mexican food recipes.