What Are Some Of The Most Popular Mediterranean Foods?
Foods that make up a mediterranean diet have evolved over the centuries in the sixteen countries that surround the Mediterranean. The primary countries that have influenced the evolution of such foods are Southern Italy, France, Greece, Portugal and Spain. These countries are characterized by the longer life spans of their people as well as the lower incidence of heart and cancer diseases.
Basic Mediterranean Diet
Foods that make up a mediterranean diet contain a lot of complex carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, beans, pasta, rice and other grains. Since the Mediterranean countries have all had access to the sea, fish is is included in their diet although due to over fishing, the use has somewhat tempered down a little.
Wine is also consumed however in lesser or moderate quantities compared to western consumption while most food is cooked in olive oil. Apart from giving the food a taste of its own, olive oil is also considered to be therapeutic in nature and is naturally cholesterol free which is said to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
A typical Mediterranean Meal
Typically, foods that make up a mediterranean diet start from appetizers, for instance the Moroccon olive salad or Turkish stuffed grape leaves. If the season is right sometimes a filling Mediterranean soup such as the heavy fafa bean soup from Sicily or the pasta soup with Greece along with fresh bread can make the entire meal. Bread is usually served and a couple of popular breads are olive bread from Cyprus or sesame bread from Egypt.
The main course consists of an abundance of vegetables, pastas or legumes which basically imply plants will form the majority of the meal with servings of fish and meat from time to time. Some examples are the Greek eggplant pilaf or simple Tunician fish dish with couscous which is a semolina grain.
The last course is invariably quite simple with a cup of Turkish coffee or Moroccan tea and for dessert simple things like Algerian almond cookies, lemon tart from Provence, baked figs from Greece or simple Sicilian lemon ice
What are the foods that make up a mediterranean diet?
Some of the popular forms of Mediterranean foods include vegetables, grains and sometimes fish dishes because of the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea however, due to over fishing in this area a lot of the fish now need to be imported.
Hummus which is a dip made of chickpea and sesame paste with flavorings of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and paprika. This dish has become quite popular as a breakfast dish and has gained currency throughout the Arab World.
Little meat is consumed in the Mediterranean diet but grilled food is popular when it does take place in these areas where it is cooked by using the heat of charcoal and wood. Barbecue is popular in most parts of the world although the technique will differ slightly every where the basic preparation is the same.
Pita bread is wheat flatbread made with yeast and apart from being part of the Mediterranean cuisine also forms part of the traditional cuisine in many Middle Eastern and African countries. There it is known as the Lebanese, Syrian or Arabic Bread.
Are foods that make up a mediterranean diet healthy?
The Mediterranean foods have become popular in recent years mainly due to the ever increasing positive research results and are considered the major cause for the longevity of people in this region along with the reduced incidents of heart and cancer diseases when compared to the western diet.
This is owed to many factors but much emphasis is placed on Olive oil which is high in antioxidants and unlike the animal fats consumed in America is said to assist in controlling cholesterol and reducing heart disease.
The flip side however is that there are increased incidents of obesity as fast food outlets creep into these regions larger cities as well. Much of this is said to be the result of the westernized fast food mentality and its slow, though penetrating affects on the Mediterranean cuisine and culture. You would be wise to not confuse fast food and the modern pizza for the true regional mediterranean style diet.
The verdict is clear on this with the scientific community validating the popular perception that true Mediterranean foods are healthy for most people and say that the reason for the well being of the people in this region may also be due to other features of their life style and perhaps food forms just one of the important ingredients.
Many fat diet distributors would have you believe otherwise due to the simple fact that no one owns the Mediterranean diet. It is there for anyone to take up with no patents or legal hurdles. You would do well to simply look at the abundance of helpful research and information from formal institutions to make up your own mind. These are all easily accessible on the internet.