Last updated on Jan 19th, 2021 at 10:51 am
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating. Research indicates that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
If you are one of the many millions entranced by the idea of learning how to make classic Mediterranean food, here are some of the most basic ingredients you will need to stock your kitchen for Mediterranean cooking.
1. Pastas and other whole grains
Whole-grain pastas and flatbreads are two of the most basic Mediterranean foods. Diets rich in whole grains may protect against heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
2. Olives and olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a primary ingredient of many Mediterranean dishes and is known to protect the body against heart disease. Make quite sure that you only use extra virgin olive oil (first cold pressing). Olives, too, are an essential component of a Mediterranean kitchen.
3. Garlic and onions
We now know that garlic has both antibiotic and antifungal properties. Research indicates that garlic may also lower breast, colon, stomach, throat and skin cancer risks. Itâ??s heart-healthy, too, as itâ??s been shown to prevent clotting. Super-food garlic is essential in a Mediterranean kitchen and is used in a host of different ways for adding both flavour and nutrition to Mediterranean food.
Red onions are a favourite for salads, whilst many Italian dishes use white onions in conjunction with other similar ingredients.
Tomatoes, packed with vitamin C and lycopene, are heart-protective antioxidants that may also help prevent some cancers (particularly prostate). Vitamin A, potassium and folate are also among the tomatoâ??s nutritional benefits. Although cooked tomatoes have less vitamin C, their lycopene is more accessible and their antioxidant activity undiminished. Always choose homegrown, organic, or heritage tomatoes if possible.
Peppers are also an essential part of a Mediterranean kitchen. Red, yellow and green peppers will be invaluable when youâ??re making some great Mediterranean salads and Italian pizzas or pastas.
Cheese is a fundamental part of the Mediterranean kitchen. Mediterraneans seem to prefer natural goat and sheep feta whilst parmesan on pasta is essential.
No Mediterranean kitchen would be complete without fresh herbs such as basil, marjoram, origanum, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Always choose fresh herbs, but if none are available, dried herbs will do.
8. Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens are nutrition superstars, providing plenty of vitamins A, C and K as well as heart-healthy fibre and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Use generous portions of rich dark leafy greens, such as chard, kale or spinach, in either a salad or sautÃ©ed with olive oil and plenty of garlic.
Nuts are loaded with heart-friendly monounsaturated fat and are rich in protein, fibre, vitamin E, folate, calcium and magnesium. Nut protein is also high in arginine, an amino acid that helps maintain healthy blood vessels. Always keep nuts in your fridge to preserve their freshness.
Beans provide high-quality protein along with folate, calcium, iron and zinc. They also offer fibre, phytates and phytosterols. Studies suggest beans may help manage diabetes, prevent colon cancer and reduce risk of heart disease.
What Mediterranean dinner would be complete without a glass of red wine with your meal? Red wine, taken in moderation, can increase â??goodâ?? HDL cholesterol, may help regulate blood sugar and can even help you digest your food and absorb its nutrients.
Pour yourself an 80ml glass (one standard unit) of your favourite Cab, Shiraz or Merlot to mimic the earthy flavours of Mediterranean cooking.
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