For the 15th consecutive year, American medical advising media platform, Healthline, has placed the Greek cuisine at the top of its annual list of healthiest cuisines in the world once.
Healthline emphasised the benefits that Greek foods and ingredients can offer to people’s health, skin, hair and also, mentioned that the Greek diet is known to “bring longevity” and is the “most recommended diet among nutritionists”, as it is mostly plant-based.
“The Greek cuisine is a perfect manifestation of the Mediterranean diet, which actually originated on the island of Crete, where locals have a higher life expectancy and a lower risk of heart disease than the average person, due to the food they eat,” Healthline wrote.
What makes the Greek cuisine special is also the fact that in Greece, each piece of land has a different microclimate, so the agricultural products produced around the country differ from each other. Fat is featured in the way of olive oil and nuts rather than meat, while fruits and vegetables are ever present in most Greek dishes. Additionally, while some of the most popular Greek foods are laden with calories, such as moussaka, pastitsio or souvlaki, there are plenty of healthy options based on legumes, fish and salads.
Paediatric nutritionist, dietician and professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, Keith Ayoob, was interviewed by Healthline and stated that “the Greek diet is an example of how eating healthy does not have to be boring, because people chow down on delicious eats without compromising their bodies.”
“That is because Greek local cuisines rely on natural and unprocessed ingredients, and time-tested preparation methods, and offer up most of the ingredients that make other Mediterranean region cuisines so healthy,” Dr. Ayoob explained.
According to Healthline Media, research over the last 40 years has shown that the traditional Greek diet is one of the healthiest on the planet. This may also explain the paradoxical phenomenon that despite some of the bad habits that characterise Greek people, such as low level of physical activity and a lot of smoking, Greek men have the longest life expectancy in Europe (at 75 years old), while women come 5th in the whole Europe (at 80.3 years old).
The healthiest foods and ingredients that are included in the majority of Greek dishes include:
The scientific evidence for the benefits of olive oil is not only limited to the prevention of coronary heart disease, hypertension, thrombosis, diabetes, loss of cognitive functions and obesity, but it is also known to contribute significantly to longevity, mainly due to its two main components: monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants.
The old Greek saying which claims that “a glass of wine a day is good for the health”, is actually truthful according to Healthline scientists, who believe that wine, and especially red wine, really helps fight back heart diseases – but always in small amounts. A glass of wine along with a Greek meal is an integral part of the Greek lifestyle, but it is also a very common cooking ingredient in Greek dishes.
Foods that are rich in dietary fibres, such as fruits vegetables, legumes and cereals protect against coronary heart disease and various forms of cancer, while they are also a great source of Vitamin C. According to the standard of the Cretan diet, it is necessary to consume at least 30 grams of dietary fibre per day and 400 grams of fruits and vegetables.
Fish, and especially fatty fish like mackerel, sardines, salmon and tuna, are a staple food of the Greek diet and can be found in abundance across the country. In addition to their high-quality protein, fish provide Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for the physical and psychomotor development and the prevention of chronic diseases. Small fish are also very good sources of calcium.
The antioxidant properties of horta (greens), such as nettle and pike, act as a preventative against the growth of cancer cells and against cardiovascular diseases, thanks to their high concentration of Carotene B. In fact, the Greek land produces more than 150 edible grasses that are regularly included in the Greek cuisine either as salads, side or main dishes.
Healthline Media reports that it is committed to providing every individual with clear, credible, evidence-based health and wellness information and that its content is always medically reviewed to verify its clinical accuracy.
Following the Greek cuisine, the rest of the healthiest cuisines in the world are: