Within the 1960s, Greeks had been residing longer and had decrease charges of persistent illness than the remainder of the world.
That is seemingly as a result of their food regimen, which was filled with seafood, fruits, greens, grains, beans and wholesome fat.
The Mediterranean food regimen is predicated on the standard Greek food regimen and different related meals patterns of close by international locations.
Analysis means that following the Mediterranean Food plan can lower your danger of coronary heart assault, stroke, diabetes, weight problems and untimely loss of life (1).
This text discusses 13 conventional Greek meals which might be tremendous wholesome.
Hummus is a well-liked dip or unfold all through the Mediterranean and Center East.
It has been eaten for 1000’s of years — even Plato and Socrates wrote about the advantages of hummus.
It’s sometimes made by mixing chickpeas, tahini (floor sesame seeds), olive oil and lemon juice. This dip isn’t solely scrumptious, however it’s additionally extraordinarily wholesome (2).
In truth, current analysis means that consuming hummus might assist with weight administration, blood sugar management and coronary heart well being (Three, four).
That is partly as a result of its principal ingredient, chickpeas, that are also referred to as garbanzo beans. They’re a superb supply of protein and fiber (5).
Hummus additionally accommodates heart-healthy fat from olive oil and tahini (6).
Olive oil is a staple of Greek cooking and the Mediterranean food regimen. It’s been linked to many well being advantages, together with much less irritation, higher mind well being, safety in opposition to coronary heart illness and stroke and the power to assist battle most cancers (7, eight, 9).
You’ll be able to serve hummus as a dip with contemporary greens, pita bread or crackers.
Abstract: Hummus is a dip and unfold produced from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice. It’s loaded with protein, fiber and wholesome fat.
Melitzanosalata means eggplant salad in Greek, however it’s really a dip.
It’s made by mixing or mashing roasted eggplants with olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. It’s much like a dish referred to as baba ghanoush, which is Center Jap in origin.
Eggplants are a great supply of fiber and antioxidants, which battle harm attributable to free radicals (10).
Free radicals exist within the surroundings, however they’re additionally fashioned within the physique when breaking down meals. They’ll trigger cell harm that has been linked to growing old, cancers and persistent illness (11).
Eggplants include a strong antioxidant referred to as nasunin. Analysis means that nasunin can scale back free radicals and defend mind well being (12).
Moreover, the dip is flavored with lemon juice and garlic. These are each incessantly utilized in Greek cooking and supply well being advantages of their very own.
For instance, garlic can enhance the immune system and assist stop coronary heart illness, whereas lemons are wealthy in heart-healthy vitamin C and should assist stop kidney stones (13, 14, 15, 16).
Melitzanosalata is usually served as an appetizer for dipping bread and greens. You may also use it as a diffusion on a sandwich.
Abstract: Melitzanosalata is a well-liked dip produced from roasted eggplants. It’s a great supply of fiber and antioxidants.
Tzatziki is one other well-liked dip and unfold utilized in Greek cooking.
Whereas it’s very creamy, it’s fairly low in energy, with about 35 energy in two tablespoons of tzatziki sauce.
Tzatziki is made with Greek yogurt, cucumbers and olive oil.
Greek yogurt is creamier and thicker than common yogurt. It’s because the yogurt has been strained to take away the liquid whey.
Traditionally, Greeks strained the yogurt to cut back its water content material and stop spoilage.
However straining Greek yogurt additionally reduces its lactose content material and makes it increased in protein. Simply Three.5 ounces (100 grams) present 10 grams of protein (17).
Protein is without doubt one of the most vital vitamins for weight reduction. It will probably assist scale back urge for food, regulate starvation hormones and improve metabolism (18).
Tzatziki sauce is commonly served as a dip with pita bread. It can be added to grilled meats for a high-protein dish.
Abstract: Tzatziki is a well-liked dip produced from cucumbers and Greek yogurt. It’s excessive in protein and low in energy.
Dolmades are stuffed grapes leaves that may be served as an appetizer or principal dish.
They’re sometimes filled with rice, herbs and infrequently meat. The stuffing can range, altering their fats and calorie contents.
Nevertheless, grape leaves are each low in energy and excessive in fiber. Additionally they have excessive quantities of vitamin A and vitamin Ok (19).
Moreover, they’ve a really excessive antioxidant content material. In truth, analysis means that grape leaves have ten occasions the antioxidant exercise of grape juice or pulp (20).
What’s extra, pink grape leaves might enhance blood circulation in individuals with persistent venous insufficiency, a situation by which blood has a tough time circulating by means of the veins (21).
Dolmades are flavored with totally different herbs and spices. Herbs and spices are an vital a part of Greek cooking and in addition include many well being advantages (22).
For instance, many dolmades recipes use parsley and dill.
Dill is believed to be a great supply of antioxidants and should sluggish the expansion of disease-causing micro organism and fungus. It might additionally enhance digestive well being (23).
And parsley is a superb supply of vitamin Ok. Simply 5 sprigs present over 100% of your every day vitamin Ok wants (24).
Vitamin Ok not solely helps blood clot, however it additionally helps bone and coronary heart well being (25).
Abstract: Dolmades are stuffed grape vine leaves which might be extraordinarily nutritious and have robust antioxidant properties.
5. Gigantes Plaki
Gigantes are massive white beans. They’re appropriately named after the Greek phrase for big, whereas plaki means a dish baked within the oven with greens.
Appropriately, the dish refers to gigante beans baked in a tomato sauce.
Lima beans or different massive white beans are sometimes used rather than gigante beans, provided that they are often tough to seek out.
White beans are very nutritious. In truth, all beans are very nutrient-dense, and plenty of are often consumed all through Greece (26, 27).
Beans are a superb and vital supply of protein for vegetarians.
They’re additionally nice for weight reduction, since they’re excessive in fiber and protein (28, 29).
As well as, analysis exhibits that individuals who eat extra beans have a decrease danger of coronary heart illness. Beans are additionally identified to assist management blood sugar and diabetes (27).
Abstract: Gigantes are massive beans baked in a tomato sauce. Beans are wealthy in lots of vitamins and have been linked to many constructive well being outcomes.
Avgolemono is a conventional Greek soup. It’s sometimes made with rooster, lemon, eggs and orzo pasta or rice.
It may be regarded as the Greek model of rooster noodle soup. Hen soup has been really useful for a whole lot of years to assist battle colds and the flu.
Curiously, some analysis helps that rooster soup might not solely assist scale back chilly and flu signs, but in addition presumably assist stop them (30, 31).
One research in contrast how chilly water, scorching water and scorching rooster soup affected a stuffy nostril.
It discovered that whereas scorching water labored higher than chilly water, rooster soup was finest at assuaging a stuffy nostril. Nevertheless, the research didn’t determine what within the soup prompted this (30).
One other current research discovered carnosine, a compound in rooster soup, fights off the flu in its early phases. Nevertheless, it’s metabolized rapidly, so the impact is short-term (31).
Along with its immune-boosting properties, avgolemono additionally accommodates excessive ranges of protein from the rooster and eggs, all whereas being comparatively low in energy.
One serving of a conventional avgolemono soup accommodates 27 grams of protein and 245 energy.
Nonetheless, it may be excessive sodium, so it is probably not the only option for salt-sensitive people (32).
Abstract: Avgolemono is lemon rooster soup. It has many immune-boosting properties and is an efficient supply of protein.
7. Fakes Soupa
Fakes soupa is a lentil soup. It may be made with or with out tomatoes and is a staple within the Greek food regimen.
It’s a superb supply of protein and fiber. Only one cup of lentils accommodates 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber (33).
These highly effective legumes are well-liked all through the Mediterranean and include many nutritional vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked lentils accommodates the next (33):
- 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
These vitamins make fakes soupa a superb meals for vegetarians, since vegetarian diets are sometimes low in iron, protein and zinc (34).
As well as, analysis means that lentils might assist decrease blood strain, battle most cancers, management blood sugar and decrease ldl cholesterol (35).
Abstract: This lentil soup is excessive in fiber, protein and plenty of different vitamins. Lentils might assist battle most cancers, management blood sugar and decrease ldl cholesterol.
Souvlaki consists of small, grilled items of meat on a skewer and is without doubt one of the most well-known Greek meals.
It’s bought all through Greece in “souvlatzidiko” or souvlaki outlets and might be present in virtually each Greek restaurant world wide.
Souvlaki is usually produced from pork, rooster, lamb or beef. It’s historically solely meat, however it’s now typically served with greens like a kabob.
Meat offers many vitamins equivalent to protein, iron and B-vitamins (36).
What’s extra, meat is an entire protein, which means it has all of the important amino acids. Diets excessive in protein have been proven to assist with weight reduction and satiety (28).
Meat consumption can be related to elevated muscle mass, which is particularly vital in older adults (37).
Souvlaki is now generally served at fast-food Greek eating places with fries and pitas. You’ll be able to attempt getting a salad as an alternative for a more healthy meal.
Abstract: Souvlaki is solely grilled items of meat on a skewer. Meat offers many advantages equivalent to protein and B-vitamins.
9. Saganaki Shrimp
Saganaki shrimp is a conventional Greek appetizer that’s each tasty and coronary heart wholesome.
It options shrimp in a savory tomato sauce and is historically served in a heavy-bottom frying pan often known as a saganaki pan in Greece.
Shrimp and different shellfish are an vital a part of the Greek and Mediterranean diets. They’re additionally extraordinarily wholesome.
Shrimp is excessive in protein and really low in fats. A Three-ounce (85-gram) serving accommodates 18 grams of protein and only one gram of fats (38).
It additionally offers about 50% of your every day selenium. Selenium might assist scale back irritation and decrease the chance of prostate most cancers (39).
Whereas shrimp is excessive in dietary ldl cholesterol, analysis exhibits that dietary ldl cholesterol has little to no impact on blood ldl cholesterol in most individuals (40).
Tomatoes are the opposite principal ingredient on this dish and wealthy in antioxidants, together with vitamin C and lycopene (41).
Lycopene is a strong antioxidant that offers tomatoes their pink coloration. It has been linked to lowering coronary heart illness and most cancers (41).
Tomatoes are incessantly consumed in Greece and should contribute to the decrease charges of coronary heart illness, most cancers and untimely loss of life.
Abstract: This appetizer options shrimp in a tomato sauce. It’s excessive in protein, low in energy and wealthy in antioxidants.
10. Baked Sardines
Fish is a staple within the Greek and Mediterranean diets.
Excessive intakes of fish, particularly fatty fish, have been repeatedly linked to many well being advantages, together with a diminished danger of coronary heart illness (42).
Sardines are one of the generally eaten fish in Greece. These small, fatty fish should not solely flavorful, but in addition one of many healthiest meals you’ll be able to eat.
In truth, they’re nice supply of EPA and DHA. These are sorts of omega-Three fatty acids which were linked to many well being advantages. Three.5 ounces (100 grams) of sardines include 473 mg of EPA and 509 mg of DHA (43).
Analysis has proven reasonable consumption of 250–500 mg of EPA and DHA per day can decrease the chance of loss of life from coronary heart illness by at the least 25% (44).
DHA can be essential for mind well being. It’s not solely important to wholesome mind improvement in infants, however it additionally promotes wholesome mind growing old (45).
Along with wholesome fat, Three.5 ounces (100 grams) present the next (43):
- Protein: 25 grams
- Vitamin B12: 149% of the RDI
- Selenium: 75% of the RDI
- Vitamin D: 68% of the RDI
- Calcium: 38% of the RDI
Sardines are additionally good in your bones, as they include excessive quantities of protein, calcium and vitamin D (46).
Whereas they’re eaten many alternative methods, they’re typically baked with olive oil, lemons and seasonings.
Abstract: Sardines are excessive in protein and wholesome fat and should assist decrease the chance of coronary heart illness. Additionally they include many nutritional vitamins and minerals, together with calcium and vitamin D for robust bones.
11. Horiatiki Salad
Horiatiki means villager in Greek, so this dish merely means villager’s salad.
It’s sometimes made with tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, olives and feta. It’s then dressed with olive oil and vinegar. All of those substances are loaded with vitamins and regarded staples in Greek cooking.
The greens within the salad make it excessive in fiber. Greens additionally include many antioxidants and vitamins, together with vitamin C, vitamin Ok and potassium (41, 47, 48).
The olives and olive oil include wholesome monounsaturated fat. These fat might scale back your danger of a coronary heart assault and stroke, in addition to scale back irritation (7, 49).
The feta sprinkled onto the salad is one other staple of Greek cooking.
Feta is produced from sheep or goat’s milk. It’s good in your bones because it’s excessive in calcium, protein and phosphorous. In truth, it accommodates extra calcium than most different cheeses (50, 51).
Abstract: Horiatiki salad is produced from tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, olives and feta. It accommodates wholesome fat, fiber and plenty of nutritional vitamins and minerals. It has many antioxidants too.
Spanakorizo is a spinach and rice dish that’s historically served with lemon, feta cheese and olive oil. It may be served as a principal dish or facet.
Spinach is without doubt one of the healthiest greens you’ll be able to eat. One cup (30 grams) accommodates the next vitamins (52):
- Vitamin A: 56% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 14% of the RDI
- Vitamin Ok: 181% of the RDI
- Folic acid: 15% of the RDI
- Potassium: 5% of the RDI
- Iron: 5% of the RDI
Spinach additionally accommodates many antioxidants that assist battle free radicals and stop cell harm (11).
For instance, they include lutein and zeaxanthin, which enhance eye well being, and quercetin, which fights an infection and irritation (53, 54).
Rice can be wealthy in lots of B-vitamins and minerals, equivalent to manganese, selenium and iron (55).
Nevertheless, iron from plant sources equivalent to rice and spinach isn’t absorbed in addition to iron from meat. Fortunately, this dish accommodates lemon. Lemon’s citric acid and vitamin C contents support within the absorption of iron from this dish (56).
Abstract: Spanakorizo is a spinach and rice dish that’s excessive in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin Ok, iron and folic acid. It additionally accommodates many antioxidants that will promote eye well being, battle an infection and scale back irritation.
13. Horta Vrasta
Horta vrasta merely means boiled greens in Greek and is a staple in Greek households. The dish is usually topped with olive oil and lemon juice.
Historically in Greece, wild greens had been used. Greens are generally consumed all through the Mediterranean, and a excessive consumption of greens is a key, typically neglected element of the Mediterranean food regimen.
Most wild greens have a particularly excessive antioxidant content material. One research discovered that many wild greens include extra antioxidants than blueberries (57).
Analysis exhibits that whereas a few of their antioxidant content material might be misplaced throughout boiling, they keep antioxidants higher than most meals when boiled (58).
If you don’t reside within the Mediterranean, you’ll be able to nonetheless get pleasure from this dish, as you should utilize virtually any leafy inexperienced vegetable. Generally used greens embrace endive, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens or chicory.
Whereas the precise nutrient content material will range relying on which greens you utilize, all leafy greens are excessive in vitamin Ok and fiber but low in energy (59, 60, 61, 62).
Furthermore, all leafy inexperienced greens are additionally good sources of dietary nitrates. Latest research have proven food regimen wealthy in nitrates from greens can decrease blood strain and scale back the chance of glaucoma (63, 64).
Abstract: Horta vrasta is a dish of boiled greens. They’re historically made with wild greens which might be excessive in antioxidants. This dish is wealthy in vitamin Ok and fiber but low in energy.
The Backside Line
The normal Greek food regimen is each flavorful and wholesome.
What’s extra, it’s wealthy in antioxidants, wholesome fat, fiber, nutritional vitamins and minerals. It’s additionally been linked to many favorable well being outcomes.
By rising Greek staples like olive oil, seafood, herbs, vegetables and fruit in your food regimen, you’ll be able to enhance your total vitamin and assist battle off persistent illness.