WSJ: Why To Eat Like A Greek

Recently, in the Wall Street Journal, there was a short article entitled, “Why To Eat Like A Greek.” Of course, since my husband is Greek, the article intrigued me, and I quickly read through it. Greek researchers have new evidence that the Mediterranean diet, rich in fish, vegetables, and olive oil, reduces mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer. This latest study included more than 500,000 patients and “found the diet had beneficial effects against five components of a prediabetic condition called metabolic syndrome.” The study’s analysis found that sticking to a Mediterranean diet reduces someone’s chance of developing this syndrome by 31%.

What was interesting to me was that there were certain limitations to the findings, such as the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet for people outside this geographic area of the world were significantly less than those partaking in the study who actually lived in the Mediterranean. Of course, genes come into play, but it made me wonder why. And in a split second, I thought to myself that it most likely had something to do with the quality of the food ingredients the Mediterranean people consume. Regardless of the combinations of food you’re consuming, if you’re not eating quality food, it obviously won’t do you much good.

As I have traveled many times to Greece, as well as many other European countries, and have had the opportunity to see first-hand the quality of the food at EU grocery stores, I can tell you that their standard levels are much, much higher when it comes to food than those of us from the States. To give you an example, I remember the first time I ventured to the grocery store alone, without my interpreter-husband, in Greece. I was rather shocked to find that when I asked for some ground meat, they allowed me to pick out the piece of meat I wanted, and then ground it right then and there. Perhaps you live in a town with a small butcher’s shop which offers you the same service. But this is a rare exception in America, where ground meat is almost always pre-ground from who-only-knows-what kind of meat cuts. Most Europeans, despite Westernization and some large supermarkets springing up, do their shopping at specialty shops, such as the butcher and the baker. And they insist on high-quality ingredients. Most of their food is of organic quality, without necessarily having the label. When you have a personal relationship with the person chopping up your meat or baking your bread, you most likely will get a better product. The impersonality of big box supermarkets leads to mystery: mystery about how fresh something is, and even greater mysteries about where it came from.

I whole-heartedly agree with the findings of this latest Mediterranean diet study. Not only does this cuisine taste fantastic and is highly diversified with fish, vegetables, and grains, it just makes you feel good while you’re eating it. So you know something good is going on inside you. So go out there, shop locally when at all possible, and raise a glass to health. As they say in Greece, “Stini yia su!” [Cheers!]

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1 Comment

  1. Mihaela

     /  March 13, 2011

    interesting….it does make one think. I’ll definitely check out the produce at the farmers’ market next weekend. I love the convenience of the supermarket around the corner but given how important it is for me to eat healthy and fresh, I should make an extra effort and get the real thing. Thank you!


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