Italian Mediterranean Diet - the healthy way of living

September 25, 2014

Italian Mediterranean Diet - the healthy way of living

Italian Mediterranean Diet – the healthy way of living

By Franco Palandra-  chef at Tuscookany – Cooking vacations in Tuscany

Do you realise how healthy an Italian Mediterranean diet is?  The Italian cuisine is typically Mediterranean which entails eating a lot of vegetable, fruit, cereal, fish and in particular white meat. 

In addition the most important element is the fact that the Italian use olive oil for cooking in large amounts instead of animal fat. Olive oil helps to clean the coronary tracts and this, combined with a high volume of coloured vegetables, prevents disease.  Furthermore the Italians take heed to follow nature and only eat what is in season.  It’s not only tastier but if you eat according to the season you will be eating a variation of different coloured vegetables.  Each different colour has a different antioxidant, which helps prevent diseases including cancer.

Dr. Ancel Keys was one of the pioneers to promote the Italian Mediterranean diet. He was the inventor of the K ratio for soldiers.  He studied the eating habits of the Italians in the South of Italy during the 2nd world war.  He was surprised to discover how much older Italians became compared to other European countries and questioned this.  He studied their life style and eating habits and came to the conclusion that the Italian Mediterranean diet was the reason.  Their diet lengthened their life without any side effects..

Another important “secret” is the Italian social life.   Eating is a communion of sharing food between the family, celebrating events like the harvest of the main vegetables like wheat, olives and grapes. These events are like a big party for the whole community, dancing and eating.  Sharing those happy moments together gives healthy “pills” to the brain and fights depression. Even the daily market visits create a good mood when the mama’s meet each other, sharing gossip, recipes, or bargaining with the traders.

There is an expression that foreigners often use to describe Italians: Italians don’t eat to live but live to eat and this is so true!  For us Italians we will always find an excuse to celebrate with food and wine.

In the sixties and seventies the Mediterranean diet changed due to the economical boom and people started to have a better life and associated the Mediterranean diet more with poor people. Fortunately now many Italians are going back to the traditional Mediterranean diet as they realise that this is a better and healthier lifestyle.

There are big differences between the Italian food in the North and South and it comes together in Tuscany, in the middle of the country, which takes the best of both North and South hence the wonderful Tuscan cuisine with influences from both regions.

At the Tuscookany cooking courses we inspire our guests to cook Italian style, with the Italian colours, spices and oils. Doing this with joy and sharing the food that we have prepared at dinner with a good glass of wine surrounded with beautiful scenery of Tuscany and great company.

What else can I say, there is no diet like Mediterranean in the world, you can follow any other diet for any reason, but this cannot be done for years, there will always be some side effects that will cause the body to suffer, but the Mediterranean diet can be done all your life. 

Ancel Keys is the proof.  He passed away at the age of 101!


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