Individuals living in Mediterranean countries such as Greece have lower rates of heart disease and cancer when compared to other developed countries. It’s thought that the Mediterranean lifestyle and diet plays an important part in this reduction of disease risk. Here, we take a look at some of the top ingredients used in Greek cuisine for you to try at home, or even on your travels, for a healthier holiday.
Olive oil is very popular in the Greek diet; you are likely to find a bottle of it on every table when in Greece. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. The consumption of monounsaturated fats is beneficial to heart health as they can help reduce blood cholesterol levels lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. Vitamin E is an antioxidant; antioxidants have a role in protecting the body against free radicals. Free radicals cause damage to body cells and organs and can contribute to the process of some diseases such as heart disease and cancer. When in Greece why not pop along to your local taverna enjoy a Greek salad drizzled with olive oil or make your own at home.
Legumes such as lentils, chick peas and broad beans are commonly found in Greek soups and casseroles. Although these legumes are often not well tolerated by those with a sensitive gut, they are a great source of fibre and the frequent consumption of legumes has been found to be protective against cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Try swapping your Gyros for Gigantes Plaki– a dish consisting of butter beans in a tomato based sauce. For those with a more sensitive gut, look out for Fasolakia Giaxni, a low FODMAP alternative, of green beans in a tomato sauce with feta cheese.
Like all yoghurt, Greek yoghurt is a great source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iodine and B vitamins including B1 and B12. What’s also great about Greek yoghurt is its protein content. Greek yoghurt typically contains twice the amount of protein compared to standard yoghurt and is generally lower in carbohydrates. However, do enjoy in moderation as Greek yoghurt can be particularly higher in fat when compared to other yoghurt varieties.
Recipe for baked aubergine with feta: Melitzane me feta.
Why not give this recipe a go at home for a real Greek dining experience:
- 2 aubergines, sliced
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 handful of fresh chopped basil
- 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 1 can of tomatoes
- 150g of feta cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the sauce by frying the garlic in a little olive oil on a medium heat for 3 minutes, and then add the tomatoes, followed by chopped basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Spread out the sliced aubergine in to a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
- Place the tomato sauce mix on top of the aubergine and bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour at 200 o
- Half way through cooking, place the crumbled feta cheese on top.