5 Ways to Eat More Vegetables The Greek Way


A recent study published in the British Medical Journal showed that individuals who consumed 7 or more servings of vegetables a day had a reduced risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.

While we know that the traditional Greek diet was mostly vegetarian due to the religious fasts, but also to economic reasons, today Greeks have moved away from their traditional diet eating a more westernized diet, but surprisingly still consume plenty of vegetables. In fact, according to a 2010 OECD report, Greece has the highest consumption of vegetables per capita in Europe based on supply and production, however it is mostly older Greeks that still eat more vegetables. Here is how we do it: Read more »

Salt and the Mediterranean Diet

salt and pepper

For many people particularly those with high blood pressure (hypertension), salt is a sensitive issue. The component of salt we worry about is sodium which makes up 40% of salt, the other 60% is Chloride. Now sodium is an essential nutrient for humans, we need it for many functions in our body. Most of us already consume more sodium than needed. Where does that sodium come from? Read more »

Greek Nutritionists Should Promote the Greek Diet

greek salad

I have been writing about my experiences when making my yearly visit to the Food and Nutrition Conference organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association) but what about what is going on right here in Greece?

Today is the first day of the yearly congress of the Hellenic Dietetic Association. Once again I am reminded of the disconnect that exists between the Mediterranean diet and Greeks and in particular nutrition and food professionals. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of Greece’s most popular chefs known for her Greek food also hosts a show that is called Oreo cookeing, with Oreo as a sponsor. How can this be?

At this nutrition congress there are a number of sessions related to the Greek diet but if we look at all the sponsors I only found one that produces something Greek: the Greek coffee company Loumidis. Read more »

Mediterranean Diet Inspired Products at the World’s Largest Food and Nutrition Conference-FNCE


Once again I attended the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association). This is the world’s largest food and nutrition conference with 8000 attendees mostly Registered Dietitians and other nutrition professionals. Currently living in Greece, this conference is important for me as I can see nutrition trends in the U.S., but also see if and how the Mediterranean diet or parts of it are communicated to American nutrition professionals.

The conference is composed of various educational sessions as well as the exposition. Attendees have the opportunity to attend a variety of sessions based on their specialty or interests: international, clinical nutrition, culinary, public policy etc. I attended several sessions and some that are related to the Mediterranean diet. Although I did not clearly see any session that was devoted to the Mediterranean diet, which to be honest I thought there would be, considering all the attention the Predimed Study received (Spanish study that showed that a Mediterranean diet may be more protective than a low fat diet). Read more »

How to Buy Good Olive Oil

olive oil

In my previous post I shared some ways to figure out if the olive oil you are consuming is good. But what should you look for when buying olive oil in the first place?

Let’s say you are in a store to buy olive oil, here is what you need to look at:

1. Expiration date. If the bottle does not have an expiration date do not buy it. And better yet, it should have a harvest date. The reason for this is not that olive oil will go bad in the sense that perishable foods go bad, but that it is old. In my previous post I noted that old olive oil does not taste good and it does not have the health benefits of the fresh olive oil. The older the olive oil the less polyphenols it will have. You should look for an expiration date that is about a year and a half away. If you find that, then that means it has been harvested in the previous year. Usually the expiration date is about 1 ½ -2 years after harvest date. But that does not mean that you should be using it until that date. Ideally, and if you want to replicate what was being done in the traditional Mediterranean diet, you want to consume olive oil within 1 year of it’s harvest date. In other words use olive oil of that year’s harvest. Generally though you should use an open bottle of olive oil in a short period of time.

2. Harvest date. As I have mentioned before, the benefits of olive oil come mainly from the polyphenols and the content of polyphenols is dependent on a few factors and one of them is when the olives are harvested. Read more »

Are Greeks really preferring Souvlaki over Hamburgers? And is that a good thing?


A recent article in the English edition of the popular Greek newspaper Kathimerini noted that “burger joints are losing the crisis-spawned battle in the fast-food world to their Greek counterpart, the souvlaki shop”. It goes on to describe recent closures of two franchise restaurants of McDonalds in Greece and providing numbers of the dropping market value of fast food chains (which by the way also may include souvlaki chains), then it adds that “consumption of traditional Greek snack foods such as koulouri bread rings, cheese pies and souvlaki remains strong” without providing any numbers or data.

Contrary to what is implied by this article, Greeks are not eating souvlakia and ignoring “American” type food. Read more »

Mediterranean Diet May Influence Our Genes For The Best

cretan snails

More important research on the Mediterranean diet. In this study researchers from Tufts University and universities from around Spain observed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet and were carriers of a specific gene that has been strongly associated with the development of diabetes and maybe cardiovascular risk had a reduced risk of stroke compared to those who did not follow the diet. Read more »

Mediterranean Diet Can Help You Live Even Longer

tomato and bread

It is not new that the Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. But what if you are already old? According to data from the HALE Project (The Healthy Aging: a Longitudinal study in Europe) for individuals aged 70 to 90 years, adherence to a Mediterranean diet and healthful lifestyle is associated with a more than 50% lower rate of all-causes and cause-specific mortality. The study included 1507 apparently healthy men and 832 women, aged 70 to 90 years in 11 European countries and the data gathered was from 1988-2000. Read more »

Mediterranean Diet May Protect Kidneys

Italian Olives

More good news for the Mediterranean diet. We know it’s good for the heart, now it appears that it may protect the kidneys. Research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden followed 1110 Swedish men (age 70) for 4 years. About half of them had Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).  Based on information gathered on their diets, the men who had a medium to high adherence to the Mediterranean diet had less chance of developing kidney disease, and for those who already had kidney disease a Mediterranean diet was associated with lower mortality rate. Read more »

Mediterranean Diet Promotes Healthy Weight During Pregnancy


I am not one to promote weight loss during pregnancy, but I do promote appropriate weight gain with the right foods. Numerous times I have seen pregnant women receive conflicting and often wrong information regarding their weight during pregnancy. Some women are encouraged to even go on a “diet” sometimes gaining minimal weight, eager to get back in their normal clothes right after the baby. My mother recalls in the 70’s her obstetrician even giving her a prescription for an appetite suppressant during her pregnancy (and she was not overweight). Others gain too much, and still others believe that it is their chance to eat junk food. Research has shown time and time again that too little weight gain as well as too much weight gain can affect the baby, but research has also shown that the quality of the diet also affects the child. Read more »