News

Eating Out in Greece. 10 Ways to Eat Like a Local.

Eating out in Greece

Every country has it own rules and considerations when it comes to food and Greece is no different. Generally, when you visit another country it is good to eat as the locals do, to know what to expect and to gain as close as you can an authentic eating experience.

1. Don’t expect your waiter to be your friend. By this I do not mean that Greek waiters are not friendly, many of them are, but you will not get the typical American greeting “Hi my name is so and so and I’ll be your server for tonight, can I get you some margaritas to start out?” No you will not have any of that. If they are really busy, they’ll probably bring out the basics (bread, forks, knives, menu etc.), and expect you to quickly give them your order when they come back to your table. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Eat This Common Food Everyday for a Healthy Heart

Tomatoes and capers

What do Greeks eat everyday in one form or another? Tomatoes. In the summer tomato and in the winter other tomato products such as tomato paste or tomato sauce. We add tomatoes to food almost as often as we add olive oil.

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, they have very few calories and most importantly they are source of the antioxidant lycopene. This antioxidant has been shown to protect from some types of cancer but also protect the heart. According to researchers from the University of Cambridge lycopene stabilized the function of the endothelium. The endothelium is a group of cells that line the inside of our blood vessels. When these cells are not functioning properly, it may lead to atherosclerosis-hardening of the arteries. The researchers found that lycopene improved the widening of the blood vessels by 53 percent, wide blood vessels is a good thing whereas narrowing of blood vessels can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Mediterranean Diet May Keep Children Thinner

eating

Well, this is not really surprising, considering that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a normal weight in adults. In this study, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria, Swedish researchers from the University of Gothenburg looked at weight and diet of 9000 children in 8 European countries including Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Sweden and found that children who followed a Mediterranean style diet were 15 percent less likely to be overweight or obese. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Is the Greek Financial Crisis Causing Heart Attacks in Women?

museum Greece

The World Congress on Acute Heart Failure is currently taking place here in Athens, Greece and two studies were presented by cardiologists Dimitra Papadimitriou and Alexios Samentzas showing that there has been an increase in hospital admissions during the crisis for heart attacks and atrial fibrillation (the most common type of heart arrhythmia-irregular heart rate ). The researchers compared a period before the crisis and the period when the financial crisis began until to 2012. The results showed that there has been an increase in heart attacks, but it was statistically significant only for women. The heart attack increase was also noticed for people under the age of 45, but again only statistically significant for women. The second study measuring arrhythmias, also showed that there was an increase in hospital admissions, again mainly for women. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

No to the Adulterated Version of The Mediterranean Diet

Greek Santorini Salad

When I first started this site, one of the reasons I began writing here was to clarify the misconceptions and misunderstandings involving the Mediterranean diet. But first let me make a few things clear:

I did not “discover” the Mediterranean diet during a summer vacation to Italy and Greece.

I did not “discover” the Mediterranean diet in the pages of a magazine or on TV

I did not “discover” the Mediterranean diet in a classroom during my studies in Nutrition.

I was raised on the Mediterranean Diet. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

5 Ways to Eat More Vegetables The Greek Way

horta

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 »

FacebookLinkedIn

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 »

FacebookLinkedIn

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 »

FacebookLinkedIn

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

hummus

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 »

FacebookLinkedIn

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 »

FacebookLinkedIn