The Mediterranean Diet

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This book is written by Author and dietitian Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos. I few months ago a friend of mine who works in publishing gave me this new recipe book called “ The Mediterranean Diet” and I was thrilled. It has taken me the past few months to get through most of the recipes and finally finish reading it.

This book is not just another recipe book, it was written by a well-known Australian dietitian Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, who has a Mediterranean Greek cultural background. She is also knee deep in the research behind Mediterranean diets.

It starts with a introduction into the history and background of Mediterranean diets and provided up to date research on its use for a variety of chronic health conditions. You may already ready know that the Mediterranean diet has been implicated for low rates of heart and Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cancer and obesity in the European continent. In fact a person following a Mediterranean style diet is 52% less likely to develop diabetes reduction in risk factors for heart disease, dementia and cancer.

In other research areas like longevity, the Mediterranean diet also comes out on top. With some of the oldest people on the planet (above 100years old) still following this style of eating. I wrote about longevity blue zones in a post called “The secret to longevity” last year if you want to know more. Although, none of this was news to me it’s something I have explored before. I still found a few key messages in the book that I didn’t know. There’s always something to learn!

The first one being that the reason why olive oil is touted as the best oil to use, is not just because of its fatty acid profile. It’s also because scientists believe that it helps people to maintain a healthier body weight. How it does this, are through our taste buds. Olive oil satisfies tastes buds better, preventing further eating. Although a Mediterranean cuisine can use lot of olive oil, it actually helps to regulate appetite better. The higher fat intake due to olive oil is not correlated to disease and if it’s below 60ml daily it probably won’t affect your weight either.

Dr Itsiopoulos also highlights that the Mediterranean diet is also high in nuts. A typical intake would consist of 30g nuts per day. It’s because of this high nut intake there is a 8% lower risk of dying of any cause, 10% lower risk of dying from heart disease, 6% lower risk of death from cancer, 13% lower risk of dying from Parkinson or Alzheimer disease. That’s pretty good stats. Research in this area have shown that nuts do not cause weight gain, and can be beneficial to health in terms of reducing risk of chronic disease conditions. Pass the cashew jar please!

How does your own diet hold up to the Mediterranean diet? If you are curious, there is a checklist from the Mediterranean diet book. Do the comparison and find out. Personally I think my undoing is cheese, at one stage I had 6 different types of cheese in the fridge and none of them was goats cheese. Goat’s cheese is supposed to be the key cheese to use in Mediterranean diet cuisine.

Diet check list

To me the Mediterranean diet style of eating is exactly what I was brought up with at home. Ecuadorian food is very similar. We use olive oil, little meat, lots of legumes and beans, loads of fresh veggies and fruit. We keep dishes simple, but tasty. A bit of oil, lemon, salt and whala! It’s gourmet!

Now for the most delectable part of the Mediterranean diet book, the recipes! They are simple, everyday ingredients with deep earthly flavours. I hope you enjoy seeing them, as much as I enjoyed eating them.

 

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Feta cheese pies

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Modified omelette potato

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Sesame, pepita almond bars

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Vegetarian Moussaka

All in all I give The Mediterranean diet book at 10/10, if you want guidance to improve your diet, this is the way to go. This diet has stood the test of time for weight control and chronic disease management. I’ll be making room for it on my book shelf thats for sure!

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