THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET: Foods, Recipes & Benefits
A way of eating based on traditional foods
One of the hallmarks of Spanish culture worldwide is ham. But there are many types of ham that differ greatly in taste and quality.
The classification of the ham in Spain is given by the breed of the animal and the feeding. Regarding the breed, the Iberian ham comes from the "Iberian pig", the native breed of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal). When we speak simply of "ham", we are talking about "white pigs" like Duroc, Landrace and Large White, varieties generally more consumed, mainly for its more economic price but with a lower quality.
100% Iberian ham (100% Jamón Ibérico) means it comes from a pig son of 100% Iberian parents registered. When the animal comes from crosses of the Iberian breed with white pigs, the percentage of Iberian breed must be indicated in the labeling.
In addition to the animal genetics, Iberian hams are classified by its feeding, so inside the category of Iberian pig, we have:
In summary, Iberian hams acorn-fed are the most appreciated and the popular term "Pata Negra" can only appear in the labeling of the highest quality product, that is: "100% Iberian ham acorn-fed" (100% Jamón Ibérico de Bellota)
The essential organoleptic characteristics of a ham are the color, the smell, the flavor and the texture. The color of the Iberian ham is usually an intense red tonality, whereas other hams are more rosaceous color. The feeding with acorns not only determines the final aroma of the ham (the essential oils in the acorns incorporate its aromas to the animal's flesh) but also contributes to the fact that in the tasting it is appreciated a greater juiciness with a unique flavor in the world.
Benefits and properties of 100% acorn-fed Iberian Ham:
All these factors place the acorn-fed Iberian ham in a privileged position in terms of nutrition. So, for example, the nutritional properties of the Iberian ham make it especially recommended for the muscular development,
In conclusion, we can say Iberian ham is an essential product of the Spanish gastronomy for its appreciated flavor, But it is more than a gastronomic product, it is a delicatessen with innumerable virtues and besides being a pleasure for the palate it can act beneficially on our health if it is consumed in moderation within a balanced diet.
Already in 1999, a Greek study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that olive oil helps to prevent rheumatoid arthritis, and this finding has been corroborated by more recent researches. According to the studies, a high consumption of vegetables and olive oil can prevent this disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and inflammatory disorder that affects joints. Approximately 1% of the world's population is affected by this disorder - women 3 times more often than men. The joints become inflamed producing pain, deformity, and difficulty for the movement, although it can also affect other parts of the organism. Its appearance and evolution are influenced by many factors such as genetics, hormones and also food. Although food can not cure arthritis, it can make the disease more bearable or complicated.
Results of the study
The study was developed with 145 patients and the results were the following:
Food in the rheumatic diseases
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of more than 100 existing rheumatic diseases, so the diagnosis must be made or confirmed by a rheumatologist.
However, anyone with articulations discomfort can improve by following a few dietary guidelines that basically consist of overweight consumption of raw vegetables, fruits, salads in conjunction with extra virgin olive oil and whole grains and/or legumes.
Vegetables have a high diuretic action as they are rich in potassium, so they help eliminate fluid retention. They are also depurative, regulate the level of fat in blood and prevents atherosclerosis like the onion. Therefore, they are useful in reducing inflammatory processes.
Foods to Avoid
It is advisable to avoid certain foods such as red meats, sausages, animal fats and hydrogenated fats, sweets, carbonated drinks, and soft drinks, and do not abuse of sugar, coffee, and refined flours.
The Olive Oil
Olive Oil contains oleocantal, a substance that blocks the enzymes involved in inflammation. 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil equals one-tenth of a dose of ibuprofen, according to a study by the Monnell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. It does not look like much, but every little change in the diet counts!
Is it good to take olive oil on an empty stomach? What is the use of taking olive oil on an empty stomach? We come today to answer these questions.
Our recommendation is that taking Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) before breakfast is a good option for your health. Basically, when olive oil is taken directly, the nutrients are absorbed far better and all its beneficial properties multiply. So before you prepare a good breakfast, you can help your mechanism work better and start a day with energy and health.
Although most of the users take it directly in a tablespoon, there is another option that is also the same or even more recommendable: mixing olive oil with lemon juice and hot water. But remember the beneficial features we are going to describe are only notable in the Extra-Virgin category.
Benefits of Taking Olive Oil Fastening
1) It stimulates intestinal transit
Surely many of you had already thought it... in case there is any doubt, it is scientifically proven that olive oil favors your intestine.
2) Prevents all types of cancers related to the digestive system
A study conducted by the Universities of Granada and Barcelona has found that a component found in the skin of olives, helps to brake cell proliferation in colon cancer cells.
3) It favors the absorption of nutrients
It is also proven that its intake regulates the transit of food from the stomach to the intestine slowing down this process for the better absorption of all food nutrients.
4) It reduces gastric acidity
Olive oil is composed of a range of substances that neutralize the harmful effect of acidic gastric, the acid that causes the reflux. These substances act as if it were a protective film on the stomach building a wall against the excess of acidity that sometimes takes place in our stomach.
5) It acts on the hepatobiliary system
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a perfect complement to the cleaning of hepatobiliary system, that is, the gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, and pancreas. It reduces the formation of gallstones and also helps to dissolve and expel them.
6) It helps stop smoking
Taking a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and lots of water is always a good idea when it comes to removing impurities from the body. Olive oil will help more easily to take away excess of nicotine and decrease its effects.
When olive oil is combined with lemon juice and it is ingested in the right way, it acts as a very powerful scrubber and the toxins left in the body are expelled. This mixture has the effect of cleaning the liver by making it perform its functions, in addition to preventing the retention of liquids.
8) Fight the hangover
Taking any food rich in olive oil will help us to form a film inside the stomach to prevent alcohol from sticking to the walls of the stomach and producing that fatal discomfort that many of us know.
9) Anti-inflammatory properties
Research by Philadelphia scientists has shown that Extra Virgin Olive Oil, one of the pillars of the Mediterranean Diet, contains an analgesic component with similar characteristics to ibuprofen, a commonly used analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
These are our reasons for taking it, what are yours?
Twelve years ago, when a group of researchers considered the possibility of measuring scientifically the benefits of olive oil, even the producers of the liquid gold did not pay much attention. So with the financing of a public health institution, these researchers bought the extra virgin oil in the supermarket to supply 200 health centers throughout Spain. With the same public funding, they also paid the salaries of nurses and dietitians who weekly offered training sessions to the volunteer participants who would see the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in their own flesh. That is how PREDIMED study was born in 2003 with more than 7,000 participants. Little by little, even the olive oil manufacturers became aware of the importance of the experiment and began to supply the olive oil necessary to continue collecting data.
So, in 2013, PREDIMED published its firsts results on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and olive oil for the heart. But, although the study was started to check the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet, years later the work continues showing data thanks to the follow-up of the medical records of the participants, this time in relation to the most frequent tumor in women.
The last findings derivated of PREDIMED and published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal shows that women who consume about 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by up to two-thirds.
For this study, the participant women were divided into three groups whose characteristics were identical except for the diet followed:
Among all the women, the number of breast cancer cases over a five-years follow-up was low, probably because they all had a fairly healthy diet according to what researchers think.
In the case of the olive oil group, there was found a reduction in the risk of having cancer of no less than 68%. With the nuts group, some protection was observed also, but it did not become so significant. As explains the main investigator of the study, in experiments with animals some polyphenols of Extra Virgin Olive Oil have demonstrated their ability to stop the progression of cancer. Therefore, the hypothesis that has more weight is that the consumption of olive oil (always talking about the Extra Virgin category) would be able to stop the evolution of some very incipient malignant cells that some of these women could have.
The study PREDIMED explicitly excluded patients already diagnosed with breast cancer at the time of inclusion, but researchers consider that it would be interesting to evaluate the effect of olive oil in patients with already diagnosed tumors. In their view, and since this food has no health risk, any patient should include it in their diet without hesitation.
In the future, it is very probably that PREDIMED will continue to provide data about the benefits of olive oil in other types of cancer, although to know these data we still have to wait.
Do you know that according to available information, the children of women who consumed Olive Oil in the course of their pregnancy have a better post-natal development than those of mothers who did not? This is manifested in regard to size, weight, behavior and the acquisition of psychomotor reflexes.
Vitamin E, according to studies, is very good for the development of the fetus but also for the newborn, since at the first contact with oxygen he is forced to fight against oxidative stress. Therefore, it is necessary the sufficient reserves of vitamin E, a substance found in abundance in olive oil and maintained in an adequate concentration thanks to the oxidation resistance of this product.
In this way, the quality and quantity of the diet followed during the development of pregnancy play an essential role in the metabolic adaptation that occurs between the mother and the child.
Vitamin E is considered an essential nutritional element. As an antioxidant, it protects from free radicals, the polyunsaturated fatty acids present in membranes and cellular structures. It also has a protective effect on erythrocytes hemolysis (rupture of red blood cells) and acts as a cofactor in many enzymatic systems.
These actions are fundamental importance in all periods of life. In this sense, the consumption of vitamin E during pregnancy is crucial insofar as it causes effects on fetal development, contributing to the maintenance of structural and functional stability of certain tissues. This allows a complete embryonic development and reduces the possibility of fetal malformations. Besides, during the first days of life in the newborn, hyperbilirubinemia is reduced, resulting in decreased hemolysis. That is why it is recommended to consume foods rich in vitamin E such as olive oil and wheat germ during pregnancy.
In addition, the mixture of olive oil with lemon juice used on the skin prevents the formation of stretch marks during pregnancy.
IMPORTANT: This information does not constitute medical advice. If you have any questions, consult your physician.
There are many good reasons to use extra virgin olive oil in the kitchen, where it results in great versatility. Also in the area of gastronomy, the parallelism between olive oil and wine is maintained, as according to gourmets there is a suitable oil for each type of food. The oil should be chosen carefully because, whether used as a dressing or for frying, it decisively influences the flavor of the dish.
The choice of one or another type of oil depends on the taste of each one, but even so, an unwritten rule insists that the softer virgin olive oils are ideal for salads and vegetables, while those with more accused flavor, match better with the fried, grilled and roasted foods.
The truth is that virgin olive oil works perfectly with frying since it does not degrade at high temperatures and it does not lose its qualities. In the frying pan, it spreads its volume by the effect of the heat. When frying, the virgin olive oil does not penetrate the food but gives it its right point, in a way that does not disfigure the flavor of the food.
Taken it in raw, the top quality olive oil gives the best of itself and allows you to taste all the nuances that make up its flavor. This differs clearly from the other vegetable oils, which possess a neutral and standardized taste. It should not be forgotten that the olive oil with the most intense taste risks eating the taste of food, and on the contrary, the oil with smooth flavor may hardly be perceived if it accompanies strong dishes.
Oil, unlike good wines, does not mature or become better with the passage of time. The open bottle should be spent soon because the content maintains its qualities for about a year and thereafter they begin to decay. That is why it is very important when you buy a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, to check the date of packaging. Besides, bottles or cans of virgin olive oil should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place where they are protected from light and heat.
Scientists have isolated about 230 compounds, many of them phenolic, which have very healthy antioxidant properties and from which researchers begin to have the first scientific data on its effect in the prevention of certain types of cancer.
But only virgin olive oil contains these minor compounds since these compounds disappear during the refining process of olive oil and are absolutely absent in all seed oils.
Very Healthy Antioxidant Properties
These compounds include squalene, pigments (chlorophylls, pheophytin), beta-carotene or vitamin A and alpha-tocopherol or vitamin E.
The presence of all these minority compounds is a characteristic and distinctive fact of virgin olive oil, as these compounds disappear during the refinement process in which the impurities of olive oils with defects, are eliminated (SEE MORE: What is virgin olive oil?) These substances are absolutely absent in all seed oils as sunflower.
There is epidemiological evidence suggesting that regular and moderate consumption of virgin olive oil may help to reduce the risk of certain types of tumors, such as breast or colon cancer, but it could also prevent other cancers. The data obtained so far are consistent and very promising, but we still have much to know, above all, the molecular pathways that are activated to produce these healthy effects. It is a line of investigation in full expansion and that augurs very promising results.
The artichoke provides very few calories and has other virtues such as regulating the cholesterol level. They are indicated for people with circulatory or heart problems. In addition, the artichoke is one of the richest vegetables in our orchards, providing us with a feeling of fullness after the meal, not forgetting the digestive benefits that give us this fiber, regulating intestinal transit.
Prep Time: 10 min; Cook Time: 20 min; Total Time: 30 min
Enjoying good health is basically a matter of genes. However, diet can help us maintain and improve it. Today, the Mediterranean diet has been imposed as a dietary pattern for its positive effects on health in general and specifically for its role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
In the 1960s, the population living in Crete, southern Greece and southern Italy had a life expectancy among the highest in the world, despite the limitations of medical services. Myocardial infarction is almost unknown and cancer hardly exists. This reality that has been known all over the world thanks to the Study of the Seven Countries, perhaps the main study for research on the relationship between Mediterranean Diet and Heart Disease, showed that diet, lifestyle, and environment (climate and environmental factors) are of great importance in health.
At the root of this study, the Mediterranean diet has been imposed as a dietary pattern. But we must not forget that the people of Crete or Italy had a lifestyle that was also responsible for providing their daily ration of health for body and mind. Going back to the sixties, (date in which this study was done), with its world of values and needs is impossible. But there is no doubt that our way of life and the way to deal with what happens to us affects our body.
The diet that is useful for preventing cardiovascular disease is useful for protecting health in general
Dried fruits in moderation, virgin olive oil for cooking and dressing, bluefish, half a glass of red wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals and legumes What do these foods have in common? They are beneficial for cardiovascular health, in general, by acting on cholesterol, reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (good cholesterol), which helps keep arteries in good condition.
Oil, nuts or blue fish contain unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), which are healthy fats.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, just like nuts, with clear benefits for cholesterol; bluefish is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated, whose fat reduces the tendency of blood to form clots, help control blood pressure and prevent arrhythmias.
With regard to red wine, there is no doubt that a small amount - a glass a day - at meals is healthy for the heart and arteries and reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease.
Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and cancer
Diets rich in cereals, fruits, vegetables, and legumes reduce the risk of cancer. On this point, there is a general consensus among the scientific community, even though all the specific plant molecules that protect against cancers are not currently identified. For this reason, five daily rations of different colors are recommended. The variation and not always take the same fruit guarantees a greater range of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
One component that is identified is folic acid, having found that people who do not have enough folic acid are at increased risk of breast, colon and rectal cancer, especially if you drink too much.
Saturated fats and cancer
There is also no doubt about the effect of some saturated fats present in red meats such as veal and processed meats such as frankfurts and ham because they are the ones that have a clearer relationship with some cancers, such as Of colon. It is not necessary to eliminate these meats from the diet because they provide proteins, iron, and other important nutrients, but it is better not to take them daily.
If saturated fats can have an impact on breast cancer, research has shown that virgin olive oil and specifically one of its components, oleic acid, contributes to its prevention. There is a study led by scientist Javier Menendez, molecular biologist at the Northwestern Health Research Institute in Chicago, who has confirmed that oleic acid intake significantly reduces one of the oncogenes associated with more aggressive tumors.
Risk of diabetes
Foods associated with the Mediterranean diet reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and thus the risk of diabetes.
The consumption of minimally processed cereals, fruits, vegetables, and vegetables with a high fiber content, as well as the use of monounsaturated fats (olive oil), are also useful for improving the blood glucose level and the lipid profile of diabetics.
Diet and physical activity
As important as a healthy eating style is to maintain a physical activity. It does not have to be very intense, but often enough, just walk 30 minutes at a good pace. Not only is weight reduced. It is shown that physical exercise reduces bad cholesterol, (LDL) and increases good (HDL). In addition, it controls the level of triglycerides in the blood that are harmful. It promotes insulin activity and reduces the risk of diabetes, as well as blood pressure.
Aging is a process that develops throughout life and whose main manifestations are favored by the presence of an oxidative phenomenon.
Unlike other oils such as corn, almond or soy, olive oil prevents aging because of its richness in monounsaturated fat, which when it's incorporated into the body performs more beneficial effects than other fats, in terms of cholesterol, blood pressure and the prevention of oxidation.
On the other hand, it is a specific characteristic of virgin and extra virgin oils that they are rich in antioxidants and micronutrients, while the rest of the oils have to be refined for consumption, which means that they lose these components.
Both the effect of fat (reducing risk factors and oxidation), and its micronutrients, are favorable to health by reducing the mechanisms that favor the development of chronic diseases.
As part of the Mediterranean diet, virgin olive oil improves the quality of life as it promotes longevity. Without a doubt, the Mediterranean diet, which includes olive oil as a fundamental fat, is one of the best models. The higher quality of life in old age would be attributed to the fact that said diet reduces chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
The smoked paprika from "La Vera" (known as Pimentón de la Vera) is a condiment very used to highlight the flavor of many foods in the Spanish cuisine. But the smoked paprika has also interesting properties that are beneficial to the health.
The process of specific elaboration of this paprika, with a tradition drying system, is the one that contributes to its curative qualities, as it confers antioxidant properties.
The health benefits of paprika of La Vera, are:
This type of paprika is even healthier than others so it is very advisable to use it regularly in meals. Just consuming 2 or 3 teaspoons per week at meals is enough to take care of our health, that's why some call it "Red Gold" because of the medicinal qualities that it owns.
This seasoning has a very special taste, smoky and intense in its 3 varieties: sweet, hot and bittersweet, so it is very easy to use in different dishes.
For all that, we can say it is really worth to include in our diet the Spanish paprika from La Vera as it can help us strengthen the defenses of the body and in this way prevent several diseases.
Both are a natural product and authentic juice of olives. The difference is in the degree of acidity and on the score obtained in the sensory analysis.
An extra virgin olive oil has an irreproachable taste and odor or said otherwise zero defects. If it is detected some type of aroma or flavor that belongs to the category of defects (rancid, humidity ...) it should be marketed under the label of "virgin". It is very difficult for a consumer not trained in the sensory analysis to be able to distinguish this barely perceptible defects, but there is a very strict methodology for the sensory evaluation of virgin olive oils by professional tasting panels.
With respect to the degree of acidity, the IOC (International Olive Council) stipulates that the extra virgin can not exceed 1º, while the virgin's limit is 2º. However, in EU regulation it is indicated that the extra virgin olive oil has 0,8 ° maximum acidity.
In the market what we will find more usually extra virgin oils with a degree of acidity between 0.3 and 0.8 º and virgin oils that do not exceed 1º. Since the virgin oil sold does not exceed 1, which is the limit set for the extra virgin, the real difference between one and the other lies in the sensory analysis.
The acidity has nothing to do with the taste more or less intense, It is a chemical parameter that determines the amount of free fatty acids expressed in oleic acid. It is related to the elaboration process. A high acidity indicates anomalies in the state of the fruits, in the treatment and/or the conservation. It is also important to know that a very low acidity, for example, 0.1 º, is not necessarily synonymous with exceptional oil. In fact, for more than two years, the UE regulations prohibited the mention of the degree of acid in the label of an extra virgin oil unless it was accompanied by other chemical parameters such as peroxides.
In short, all the oils that have been obtained exclusively by mechanical methods (pressure or centrifugation) and without the intervention of any chemical process, are called virgins. But a small loss of quality in the olive or in any of the stages of the process is enough to transform oil category to virgin instead of extra virgin.