Did you grow up tormented by vegetables?
Did your parents hold the good parts of meals hostage until you ate your greens? Were you nauseated by the sudden appearance on your tray of a glop of overcooked, evil-smelling cafeteria-style vegetable matter?
Meanwhile, as you watched tastier foods disappearing down the gullets of your elders, did anyone offer up much in the way of a good reason for inflicting torture-by-vegetables on you?
Fortunately, many of us were able to overcome our traumatic dietary beginnings to develop a real appreciation for the wonders of the edible plant kingdom, and today we are living in an era of greater awareness of the health benefits of a plant-centered diet.
That awareness comes from studying the remarkable health-promoting Mediterranean diet, linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases, and certain forms of cancer.
Over thousands of years, Mediterranean cultures evolved a characteristic cuisine heavy on vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals and nuts, and prepared using large amounts of olive oil.1 Poultry, fish and seafood are eaten in moderation, while red meat and dairy consumption is very limited.
With the exception of moderate quantities of red wine drunk with meals, alcohol consumption is traditionally light. In our bodies, such a diet is linked to fat proportions consistent with healthy circulation and heart function, normal levels of factors otherwise contributing to metabolic diseases and certain cancers,2 and the presence of gut microorganisms associated with good cardiometabolic health.3 Increased consumption of plant-derived anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative substances may contribute to lower rates of some serious chronic diseases.
How can we reap the benefits of a Mediterranean diet?
It may be that ALL of the characteristic features of the Mediterranean diet combine to yield a lifetime of good health. So, just adding one or more components of the diet to our typical daily fare is probably not going to result in a spectacular health transformation.
Rather, it may be necessary to adopt a Mediterranean diet as a kind of plant-focused dietary lifestyle. For many of us, doing so will require a gradual change in our eating patterns and preferences, compatible with each person's unique cultural, economic, geographic and family circumstances.
Given the alarming expansion of chronic diseases linked to our typical dining habits, it might be a good idea to make a start, and sooner rather than later. How best to begin? Why not eat more vegetables?
But now, do so knowing why it’s such a good idea. Especially to eat more of the freshest vegetables you can find, grown as locally as possible. This will help to maximize your intake of plant-derived nutrients.
It's easy to eat your greens with Hamama!
Hamama makes it easy, affordable and enjoyable for anyone to realize the benefits of ultra-flavorful, ultra-fresh homegrown microgreens that pack as many, or more important nutrients as mature vegetables.
At the same time, recognize that a Mediterranean diet dramatically shifts the intake of fats away from animal sources like meat and dairy to a plant source, in the form of olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is the least refined form, and its consumption and use in food preparation are foundations of the Mediterranean diet.
Introducing extra virgin olive oil into your transforming culinary universe is another critical step that can be taken as soon as possible. Here again, Hamama makes it easy to bring the delicious flavor and time-tested health benefits of extra virgin olive oil into your life.
(1) Lacatusu, C.-M. et al. The Mediterranean Diet: From an Environment-Driven Food Culture to an Emerging Medical Prescription. Int. J. Env. Res. Publ. Health 2019, 16: 942; doi:10.3390/ijerph16060942.
(2) Tosti, V., Bertozzi, B. and Fontana, L. Health benefits of the Mediterranean diet: metabolic and molecular mechanisms. J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2018, 73: 318-326.
(3) Wang, D.D. et al. The gut microbiome modulates the protective association between a Mediterranean diet and cardiometabolic disease risk. Nat. Med. 2021, 27: 333–343; doi:10.1038/s41591-020-01223-
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