Grape Cruet for Oil and Vinegar

Grape Cruet for Oil and Vinegar

Healthy Olive Oil In The Mediterranean Diet

A large amount of olive oil use in cooking recipes and consumption is one feature of the Mediterranean diet that makes it unique when compared to other traditional diets. Because of the heavy use of olive oil, there is no need for use of saturated fats like vegetable shortening, butter, or margarine. The only time butter is actually used is when certain desserts are being prepared, and even then the amount of butter used is minimal. So, olive oil is the choice of healthy fat for cooking, for salad dressings, bread spreads, and condiment use when drizzled over a completed dish. Since olive oil is mainly composed of monounsaturated fat, it is considered to be heart healthy and actually helps prevent heart disease. Olive oil intake amounts are largely determined by how much energy is required (for caloric intake) for the day. Despite energy requirements, all traditional Mediterranean customs recommend substituting olive oil for all fats that could be used in cooking, on salads, and at the table as a spread or condiment. The easiest way to take advantage of consuming Omega-3 fatty acids is to put olive oil in your salad dressing.

Dairy Products
Milk may be a part of certain cooked products in the Mediterranean diet, but it is not used as a drink. Sometimes, small quantities of cheese are consumed with fruit or added to dishes for flavor. Although dairy products may make up an important source of saturated fat in the Mediterranean diet, they are always moderately consumed. A lot of native Mediterraneans eat a cup of yogurt every day as a calcium dietary source. In North America, most of us use yogurt for breakfast and spread it on fruits, vegetables, and other foods.

Fish and Poultry
Fish and poultry are more commonly eaten than red meat like beef, but even these are eaten in lesser portions than they are in North America. Fish is consumed because it provides good fats which are omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to help prevent heart disease. Fish is also a popular choice for providing lean protein.

Mediterranean peoples choose to raise poultry instead of cattle because it takes less land and feed to raise poultry. Therefore, there is an added economic advantage to raising poultry. As a great substitute for beef, meat from poultry gives food flavor and adds lean protein to the regular diet. Also, fish and poultry can be eaten two to four times a week as a main dish (3-ounce serving), or you can eat it more often if you consume it in smaller portions.

Eggs, Sweets, and Red Meats: Rare Mediterranean foods
The Mediterranean diet rarely includes eggs, sweets, and red meats. Eggs may have a place in the making of certain breads and some desserts, but they won’t be found as a breakfast item for the morning meal. As noted earlier, sweets are are not consumed as a part of a meal. Instead, sweets are set aside for consumption during special occasions. Lamb and pork are common meats in the Mediterranean diet. It is very rare to see a recipe including the use of beef. Meats like roasts and other large meat quantities are only reserved for special occasions. When it comes to the Mediterranean diet, meat tends to act as a condiment for vegetables or pasta and is never considered the main ingredient. So, meat is treated almost the way we would use garlic, peppers, or onion for flavoring.

So if someone wants to benefit from the fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals meats have, then they would best be served by eating lamb, pork, and beef as an occasional main dish item (no more than a 3-ounce serving). If they are often used, it is only as a condiment to season a dish as stated earlier (i.e., no more than 1 ounce per person). Veal stew is a nice stew filled with plenty of vegetables. A popular dessert for special occasions is the Orange-Walnut Semolina Cake that uses nuts and olive oil in its recipe.

To put it simply, the Mediterranean diet is a diet that promotes large quantities of pasta, breads (preferably whole-grain varieties), rice, and other grains. It also promotes the consumption of a large diversity of vegetables, legumes, and fruits. Olive oil, poultry, fish, and regional wines are also a traditional part of Mediterranean cuisines. Most cuisines have fresh foods that are rarely processed, which makes their foods very healthy and fat friendly. Also, the foods are cooked in such a way as to preserve natural flavors. It’s the balanced nutrition this diet promotes that has gained the interest of scientists who are now glad to promote what they have termed the Mediterranean diet.

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