The Healthy Italian Diet
There are a few things Italy is famous for – it’s healthy people, rich culture, fascinating scenery, and of course, its food. As the saying goes, you are what you eat, and the Italians couldn’t agree more. Local and natural food is key to the health of the Italian population, which means an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetable, healthy fats and plenty of quality ingredients. Feel intrigued to learn how a combination of genuine, quality food can be beneficial to your health? Then read on to find out more.
Cooking and eating natural and healthy foods are life-long passions for the Italians, and their diet, known as the Mediterranean diet due to the country’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, ensures that by cooking well while taking advantage of key ingredients that are beneficial to your health. With a diet consisting of local and fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, legumes, fish and moderate amounts of poultry and red meat, the key element of the Italian diet is that the food is fresh, local, and seasonal. If you want to live a healthier and happier life, then do as the Italians do and begin incorporating these foods into your diet to make a difference to your lifestyle.
Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Grains
In Italy, fruits and vegetables are most often local and chosen seasonally, providing fresh ingredients and variety throughout the year as the seasons change. For the most part, the Italian diet is plant-based, as Italians often consume six or more servings of anti-oxidant rich foods per day. By keeping a high plant-based diet, free radicals are cleaned from the body and illnesses such as heart disease and mood disorders are prevented.
An abundance of grain varieties can be found in Italy, all of which are healthy and packed with nutrients. Whole grains and rice are loaded with benefits and therefore used in salads and breads. Italian bread is made fresh without preservatives and often used to make bruschetta with extra virgin olive oil.
Nuts are high in good fats helping to maintain healthy skin and eyes while playing a key role in brain function and development. The Italian diet focuses on selecting good fats. Nuts are often consumed in moderation and help to add many nutritional and flavour benefits to Italian cuisine, as they contain fibre, protein, calcium and vitamin E. Think of fabulous pesto!.
Fish and Seafood
The Italians love their fish and eat it at least two times per week. Fish is an excellent source of protein, Vitamins B and D, and fish high in omega-3 helps to strengthen the heart, eyes and brain, in addition to providing many anti-oxidant health benefits.
Poultry, Dairy and Eggs
Although these foods are consumed in the Italian diet, they are primarily used as supplements to meals, as opposed to being primary food objects. Authentic Italian cuisine uses cheese sparingly to add flavour so as not to overwhelm a dish. Think of Parmesan cheese!
Red meat is eaten rarely in the Italian diet. When choosing red meat, Italians prefer lean cuts and portions kept on the smaller side. Bolognese sauce anyone?
Red wine is used for cooking and drinking in Italian cuisine, and has proven to have many health benefits as it is high in anti-oxidants, and when consumed in moderation, is beneficial for the heart. Red wine also contains resveratrol, a compound which prevents damage to the blood vessels and helps to reduce cholesterol and prevent blood clots. Moderation is key to everything in the Italian diet.
Olive Oil and fresh Herbs
Beautiful Extra Virgin Olive oil is a common ingredient in authentic Italian cuisine and is used raw as a dressing on salads or as a dip for breads, and for cooking. Spices and herbs are used to increase flavour. Herbs are full of nutrients and are a key ingredient in many Italian dishes.
While some people continue to underestimate the health benefits of eating fresh and unprocessed foods, the evidence is clear– a healthy diet combined with regular exercise can prevent many diseases.
Authentic Italian food is healthy, delicious and full of different taste combinations which can only be achieved with Italian foods. So, if you want to be happy and healthy, one of the easiest ways to achieve this is by following an Italian diet, just as the Italians have for centuries!