The Mediterranean diet
The term “Mediterranean diet” is used to describe the dietary habits of the people who live around the Mediterranean Sea. The special Mediterranean climate, the long periods of sunshine but also the soil conditions and of course the presence of the sea element have shaped the food culture. Olive groves, vineyards and the seabed have provided the raw materials for the Greek and Mediterranean diet. The most important of these remains the extensive use of olive oil.
All the guidelines and rules that one comes across in the Mediterranean diet books are essentially eating habits that the rural people already practiced in the Mediterranean countries. Meat is consumed in moderation; vegetables are included in the daily diet depending on their season of consumption. The dishes are mainly cooked with olive oil and wine which is an essential ingredient of the diet. The fruits are used in sweets or even as a snack, the wheat is kneaded in bread and the fruits if not consumed fresh they become jams and spoon sweets.
Oats, wheat, fruits, honey and tahini give the energy needed at breakfast to start the day. Fresh milk is flavoured with cinnamon and cloves while oat flakes with raisins, buckwheat and almonds add a nutritious and energizing breakfast.
Legumes, fresh vegetables and herbs are combined for the main meal of the day, while in the afternoon something sweeter such spoon-sweet, yogurt with honey is served. In the evening the most common meals are salads, pasta or cheese with herbs.
The Mediterranean diet is nowadays an important intangible heritage that offers significant benefits to health, quality of life and well-being. Recently it has been recognized as an integral part of Greece’s intangible cultural heritage, so in 2013 it was registered in the national index. The same year Mediterranean diet was also included in the UNESCO representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.