|Photo Credit mediterranean snack image by permission from Fotolia.com|
The Greek diet, also known as the Mediterranean Diet, is an alternative way of eating that has been adopted in the United States. Food sources include fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lean meats.
|Photo Credit: http://oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/mediterranean-pyramid/overview|
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
The Mediterranean Diet pyramid begins with a base of daily physical activity. The bottom layer includes bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, couscous, polenta and other whole grains. These foods should be eaten most often throughout the day. Above this group are fruits, vegetables and beans, legumes and nuts. Each of these foods should also be eaten daily. Fats, including olive oil, and dairy, including cheese and yogurt, are other foods that should be consumed daily. The top portion of the pyramid includes foods that should only be enjoyed weekly or monthly. Fish, poultry, eggs and sweets should be consumed on a weekly basis. Red meats are at the top of the pyramid and should make up the smallest portion of your diet by consuming only a couple times per month. The Mediterranean Diet pyramid also includes water and wine in moderation as beverages.
The Greek diet is high in fats from olive oil and nuts, but the fat in these items is monounsaturated. The American Heart Association recommends consuming monounsaturated fat as a way to reduce LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels. This type of fat also raises HDL, or good, cholesterol levels. Americans usually consume more saturated fats than monounsaturated fats in their diets.
The Greek diet is based on various types of grains. Baking bread and having various fresh types of bread available to consume throughout the day are quite common. In addition to breads, side dishes include polenta, potatoes, brown rice, and couscous. Pasta and whole-grain pasta may also be used in an entree dish.
In Greece, friends and families eat meals together in a social setting. They prepare fresh produce that they grow on their own land, collect milk and eggs from their own animals and may even have their own animals for slaughter. Food quality is fresh, and meals are prepared as a family. In the United States, meals are often consumed on the road or in front of the television. Having one meal per day as a family at the table is a bonding experience. It also allows you to eat slowly and enjoy your food.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a staple of the Greek diet. Locals in the Mediterranean consume produce several times throughout the day. Produce is seasonal, but tomatoes and cucumbers are usually available year-round. In the United States, you have access to all types of produce any time of year. To select the freshest produce possible, choose items that are grown locally and are seasonal. For example, butternut squash is readily available in the fall, while berries are plentiful in the summer.