The Perfect Mediterranean Summer Meal

By:Brittany Hofferber

What is the Mediterranean Diet? 

c Meals are built around plant-based foods, aiming for around 7 to 10 servings of fruit/veggies per day (Mayo Clinic). Recognized by the World Health Organization as a “healthy and sustainable dietary pattern”, this traditional cuisine of countries near the Mediterranean sea also values sharing meals and drinking a glass of red wine (or two…or three) with friends and family- a detail I find to be representative of how positively balanced this way of eating is. 

Health Benefits are Profound

Overall, MedDiets have direct (mono-unsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols, polyphenols) and indirect (low saturated fats, well-balanced linoleic/alpha linolenic acid) effects on the immune system and inflammatory responses” (Mazzocchi et al). Extra virgin olive oil’s (EVOO) antioxidant effects help decrease oxidative stress within the body. Oxidative stress has been implicated in a number of risk factors of Cardiovascular Disease including hypertension, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (Mazzocchi et al). 

  • hol3health explained: When we get stressed out, we generate oxygen radicals within our body termed “oxidative stress.” The antioxidants found within EVOO are substances that can counteract this damage by reacting with these radicals, decreasing many of the risk factors associated with CV disease. 

EVOO also has possible benefits for the prevention of cancer as oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil, suppresses the over-expression of the oncogene HER2 (Mendez, Lupu). 

  • hol3health explained: Oleic Acid, a main omega-9 fatty acid found within EVOO has been shown to have possible benefits against developing cancer. 

A series of six articles found correlations between the Mediterranean diet and healthy aging outcomes, including higher scores on a Literature-based Adherence Score, lower likelihood of physical impairments in older adults and gut microbiota-mediated production of metabolites (The Gerontological Society of Aging).  

  • hol3health explained: The Mediterranean Diet’s beneficial effects on healthy aging and brain function resonates a lot with the research done with healthy fats.       
What to include in your next Mediterranean-inspired meal? 

If I haven’t convinced you yet to try and incorporate some Mediterranean-based dishes into your summer routine, I have left my best trick for last…the food of course☺ 

I plan to dive deeper into my take of these traditional recipes through the “Mediterranean Summer Series”, but for now, here is a TASTY overview of some dishes you can try out yourself! 

The Basics of the Mediterranean Lifestyle…

  • Lemon Grilled Chicken (or any meat of that course)
  • Cucumber, Tomato, Watermelon Salad 
  • Grilled Veggies
  • Homemade Pita Bread (or store bought)
  • Chicken Shawarma
  • Grilled Kebabs 
  • Greek Chicken Gyros
  • Lemon & Dill Salmon
  • Greek Lemon Rice
  • Tabouli
  • Greek Tzatziki Sauce
  • Tahini Sauce
  • Homemade Hummus
  • Organic Red Wine (Taste Test to come…)
  • Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce
  • Mediterranean Salad 
  • Light Mediterranean Olive Oil and Basil Pasta
  • Mediterranean Fries

Reference List:

Mayo Clinic. (2019, June 21). Mediterranean diet for heart health. Retrieved April 22, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801

Mazzocchi, A., Leone, L., Agostoni, C., & Pali-Schöll, I. (2019). The Secrets of the Mediterranean Diet. Does [Only] Olive Oil Matter?. Nutrients11(12), 2941. https://doi-org.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/10.3390/nu11122941

Menendez, J.A.; Lupu, R. Mediterranean dietary traditions for the molecular treatment of human cancer: Anti-oncogenic actions of the main olive oil’s monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (18:1n-9). Curr. Pharm. Biotechnol. 20067, 495–502.

The Gerontological Society of America. (2018, March 30). Can a Mediterranean diet pattern slow aging?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 31, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180330145322.html

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