Let us go back to the 60’s, to Greece. During that time, Greeks were known to have the lowest rate of chronic disease and lived longer than other people from other countries live. This was due to their diet that were filled with fruits, vegetables, seafood, bean, healthy fats and grains.
Today, we speak of the Mediterranean diet, which is based on the traditional Greek diet, as well as from other countries around Greece that has similar food patterns.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet is that it could reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity and premature death.
In this article, the nine best traditional Greek foods, which are super healthy, will be discussed.
Hummus, made of chickpeas, ground sesame seeds, olive oil and lemon juice, that has been eaten for thousands of years. Plato and Socrates even wrote about this delicious and healthy spread, which can be enjoyed on pita breads or as a dip.
Studies have indicated the benefits of consuming this food, which includes assisting with weight management, heart health and blood sugar control. This is since hummus contains chickpeas that are a good source of fiber and protein. But they also contain heart-healthy fats derived from sesame seeds and olive oil. Olive oil has been linked with healthy benefits such as reducing inflammation, brain health, limiting heart disease and strokes, as well as fighting cancer.
Melitzanosalata, eggplant salad, is a dip and is very similar to baba ghanoush. It is made by blending roasted eggplants with garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Eggplant is a great source of antioxidants and fiber, thus protecting you from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are in the environment and be formed in the body as food is broken down. They damage cells and has been linked to cancers, aging and chronic disease. One antioxidant called nasunin could reduce free radicals and protect brain health.
The other ingredient, garlic, is an immune booster that can aid in reducing the risk of heart disease. Lemon, which is also added to Melitzanosalata is a good source of vitamin C and could reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Enjoy Melitzanosalata as an appetizer by dipping vegetables or bread in, or use it as a spread on a sandwich.
Tzatziki, made from Greek yogurt, olive oil and cucumbers, is a popular dip. Although it is creamy, it is very low in calories. That is, it had a mere 35 calories per two tablespoons.
Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than other yogurts. It is also a good source of protein. Protein is good for weight loss, as it can reduce your appetite, regulates hunger hormones and increase your metabolism. Enjoy Tzatziki with meat or on your pita bread.
Stuffed grape leaves, or Dolmades, normally made with rice, herbs like parsley and dill, and sometimes meat is added.
Grape leaves are low in calories and high in fiber. But they are also good source of vitamin K and vitamin A. In addition, they have a high antioxidant content. Red grape leaves have been found to improve blood circulation in people with chronic venous insufficiency, a condition in which blood has a hard time circulating through the veins.
The herb parsley is a source of vitamin K. This vitamin helps with preventing blood clots and supports good heart and bone health. The herb dill an antioxidant source, helps digestion, and can delay the growth of disease-causing bacteria and fungus.
Named as giant in Greek, gigantes are large white beans, and plaki means a vegetable oven baked dish. In essence, this is gigantes beans baked in the oven in a tomato sauce.
These white beans, gigantes, are very nutrient-dense. They are a good source of proteins, which makes them ideal for vegetarians. However, as they are also are high in fiber. This means that they are good for weight loss as well.
The traditional Greek soup, Avgolemono is made with chicken, lemon, eggs and orzo pasta or rice. This chicken noodle soup is useful in helping to protect and fight off colds and flues. Besides to its immune-boosting properties, avgolemono also contains high levels of protein from the chicken and eggs, all while being relatively low in calories.
However, this soup can be a bit high in sodium. Therefore people with high blood pressure or that are salt-sensitive should best avoid it.
The lentil soup, fakes soupa, made with or without tomatoes, is a staple in the Greek diet.
This meal is a good source of protein and fiber, as one cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber. Lentils also contain many vitamins and minerals, for instance:
- Molybdenum: 330% of the RDI
- Folic acid: 90% of the RDI
- Manganese: 49% of the RDI
- Iron: 37% of the RDI
- Vitamin B1: 28% of the RDI
- Zinc: 24% of the RDI
This lentil soup is ideal for vegetables and people that are suffering from anemia, as this dish is packed with protein, zinc and iron. Still, another reason to eat lentils in general is that it could help fight cancer, lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.
Souvlaki are small grilled pieces of meat on a stick. The meat is normally pork, lamb, beef or chicken.
The meat provides protein, B vitamins and iron. Meat is a pure protein, giving you all the amino acids your body needs. Protein also helps to control your weight. That is since meat is associated with increased muscle mass, which is important to older adults.
Saganaki shrimp, a traditional Greek appetizer, is shrimp in a savory tomato sauce. Shrimp is a good source of protein, and low in fat. Plus, it’s a source of selenium which could help to decrease inflammation and lower the risk of prostate cancer.
The other main ingredient, tomatoes is rich in antioxidants, including lycopene and vitamin C. Plus, lycopene is a potent antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color and is linked to reducing heart disease and cancer.
The traditional Greek diet is both flavorful and healthy. What’s more, it is rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It’s also been linked to many favorable health outcomes.By increasing Greek staples like olive oil, seafood, herbs, fruits and vegetables in your diet, you can improve your overall nutrition and help fight off chronic disease.