{The Mediterranean Diet: why everyone should do it}

Mykonos
 

INTRO: For those of you that follow us on Facebook, you know that we were on vacation. For those who don’t… Shame on you!!! Just kidding…but I’ll let you in on the details. We vacationed in the lovely Mediterranean. We were able to explore some of Greece and Turkey during our 3-week celebratory journey. What’s ahead for us? Medical Residency. Hence our desire to escape reality for a bit and travel as far away as possible). After all…we did it. We are finally medical doctors! So before we start working (and ceasing to see the light of day), we wanted to share we you what we learned about our travels. Moreover why the Mediterraneans have great quality of life, and know how to eat healthy.

What did the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations have in common that made them so influential throughout the whole world and history? Their diet. It is on the shoulders of this diet that great men and women were born and raised into the empire builders we know today from our history classes. Leonidas and his 300were quite healthy as you might have been able to tell from the movie. You simply do not become such a strong and decorated soldier eating poorly. Alright perhaps I’m exaggerating, but indeed the Greek and Romans had a very similar diet. They still do today and we appropriately call it The Mediterranean Diet.

 

The diet is actually quite simple to follow and can be done from anywhere thanks to globalization. It is essentially what anybody offering you diet advice always tells you. How many times have you heard “eat more fruits and vegetables” or, “eat less meat?” These are two of the key principles of going Mediterranean. This is also likely the best thing about it. You can eat anything while on the Mediterranean diet. What is most important is how often you eat one group of foods vs. the other. Here is more or less what the distribution should look like on the food pyramid:

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Roughly speaking one should eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains on a daily basis. These should form the majority of your diet. Fish and seafood should also be a regular part of your diet, but to a lesser extent. Recommendations typically range from 2-3 times a week. Dairy products, poultry, and eggs can be consumed daily if you so desire, but the portions should be moderate. The final level of the pyramid contains meat by itself. Given the amount of saturated fat meat typically contains (the Mediterranean diet contains mostly products with unsaturated fats) it is only recommended from once a week to 2-3 times per month.

Fava bean purée

Crostini Fava bean purée (top), Whole Grain Crostini (bottom)

grilled fish

Grilled fish, wilted spinach, potato salad (minus the mayo)

 

Of course the idea behind this diet is to minimize saturated fats, which have been linked to heart disease when consumed in excess, and instead maximize unsaturated fats which are good for the heart. You probably noticed that most vegetarians follow this diet rule and our blog recipes too! An easy step to take is to replace butter with olive oil when cooking, for example. The diet also makes sure to cut down on salt consumption and does so by flavoring food with spices and herbs rather than salt. These are just some of the reasons why an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases according to the Mayo Clinic website.

However, the Greeks have an advantage that some of us don’t have: the access to fresh ingredients on a daily basis. At the Greek Islands, residents have the luxury to eat the catch of the day or get fresh fruits and veggies from their local markets. For those of you that live in a place without the access to these, don’t worry. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Stay tuned for ideas on how to eat like a Greek when freshness is not an option. We will guide you through the process of making the best out of modern living: how to choose well in a grocery store.

In other news, HHW will be undergoing some CHANGES. As life progresses you either adapt to the changes that go with it or get left behind in the process. On a personal note, during this past year we underwent a lot of hardship. It was a year of struggling towards our goal: finishing medical school. In the process we had to apply for jobs throughout the US as a couple, travel for interviews apart and relinquish our destiny to the “couples match.” I am happy to report that we both matched into our #1 choice for Medical Residency. During our race to finish, our diet had to adapt to where we were traveling to…so we started eating more Mediterranean than strictly vegetarian. Having stated that… don’t be surprised if you see upcoming posts with fish, organic poultry or maybe once in a blue moon…organic beef. Stay tuned.

 

-HHW

 

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