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Italian Breakfast: The Mediterranean Diet

By: Victor Sanchez

Food is delicious and it is a fact that it rules our lives: people eat three meals a day and indulge in even more food throughout the day by taking several snack breaks wherever we may be and whatever we may be doing. As a student abroad, I can assert that Americans have grown to love our traditional toast, eggs and bacon in the morning however, many other morning routines, in other countries start with different food items. For example, in Italy a typical morning starts with an espresso and a brioche, and sometimes some fresh juice to kick-start the day. If we continue with Italy as an example, we see that many world travelers are amazed at the foods grown in this country and instantly develop a love for the Italian diet, otherwise labeled as the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet is born out of the dietary traditions of, not only Italy, but many countries in the Mediterranean like Portugal, Spain and Greece. The American sciences label it a “diet”, but it’s more than just a dietary program or regiment, in truth, it’s a conglomerate of habits that create the ‘way of life’ of the countries in the Mediterranean. Research in the nutrition sciences identifies a paradox in the eating habits of countries such as Italy: even though people that live in the Mediterranean consume high amounts of fat, they show relatively less diseases from nutrition and less health problems. They also rarely have any issues concerning cardiovascular diseases.

The ‘way of eating’ in the Mediterranean, by tradition, inspires people to high consumptions of olive oil, legumes, fruits and vegetables. They also eat more fish and seafood, and less meats, and they moderate the intake of dairy products like milk and cheese. Olive Oil is the most essential component of the delicious plates of the Mediterranean. It brings out so many hidden rich flavors of food and gives your plate a gracious aroma that will absolutely make you fall in love with the food you eat. Olive oil also provides health benefits because it has many different antioxidants and reduces cholesterol and prevents the risks of heart disease.

Another famous component of the diet is wine. Wine has many different antioxidants and health benefits which can serve as one of the many explanations as to why Italian wine is so famous and so widely known. They say that drinking wine, in moderation, a few days during the week can help immensely when it comes to heart problems and digestive complications.

I experienced first hand the Mediterranean diet while I lived in Italy for a whole year and, like most Americans, fell in love with Italian food. There was a particular fruit that caught my eye though: lemons, but not just any lemons. The Sicilian lemons are the most beautiful, most yellow and most delicious lemons out there, at least in my opinion. Also, these lemons are gigantic and can be as big as your own fist while other lemons fall short in comparison.

I can speak for Italy when I say that the Mediterranean eating habits are something to seriously consider integrating into our own lives. However, all the Mediterranean dishes have been born out of tradition, changing very little with time and remaining pure and beautiful dishes, just like each and every country in the Mediterranean Sea.

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