Did you know that the Mediterranean diet, in different studies, has shown a causality relationship with weight loss, prevention of diabetes type two, heart disease, stroke, and even the halting of premature death?
So what is that miracle cure of a diet? and is it really as effective as research has shown? Well, the simplest of terms, the Mediterranean diet is the umbrella term for the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Morocco, Italy, Spain, and Greece, specifically in the 1960s, before the crawl of junk food and soda took over the world.
When compared to the regular “American” diet, the majority of researchers have found that it’s exceptionally healthy, and actively works on decreasing the risks of multiple lifestyle diseases.
But, if you have no idea what Mediterranean flavors or the diet itself looks like, no worries. You’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading to learn all about the key culinary regions that gave birth to the Mediterranean diet, the breakdown of flavors, as well as the basics of the diet.
What Are the Mediterranean Culinary Regions?
Before starting our deep dive into the intricacies of the diet, and its host of flavors, let’s take a quick look at the main three culinary regions that you can (roughly) divide up the flavors into:
- The North African Mediterranean: Think Morocco and Tunisia
- The Eastern Mediterranean: Like Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey
- The Southern European: Southern parts of Spain, France, and Italy
Moreover, when you hear about herbs and wine, think about the Southern European cuisine, while the spices and strong flavors tend to come from the North African foods.
The core shaper of this region’s cuisine is the climate and the terrain. In short, you’re looking at a geographical area with dry and hot summers, gently giving way to cool and soft winters. The solid is clear and dry, with a lot of water mass on the coast and rivers watering the agricultural areas.
Mediterranean Flavors: The Breakdown
Well, that’s all nice to learn. But, let’s talk about the fun things, which are Mediterranean flavors. Remember our regions? We’re going to use them as our core guideline for the flavor profiles.
The Southern Italy Region
The most commonly used ingredients in this region are:
- Balsamic vinegar;
- Bay leaves;
- Mozzarella cheese;
- Olive oil;
- Pine nuts;
- and Tomatoes
With those ingredients aplenty, you get an overall cuisine flavor that’s savory, rich, and strong in flavor. You can only look at a tomato-based sauce with the occasional kick of heat to understand the flavor profile in less than a second.
The Greek and Eastern Mediterranean Region
For this regions ingredients, you have:
- Feta cheese;
- Olive oil;
- and Oregano
With those on hand, we find an overall cuisine flavor that has a wide range of scope. From tangy with citrus undertones to the sheerly savory. Looking at feta cheese and fennel, we can understand where the strong flavors come from, with milder ingredients like yogurt bringing the dishes to the perfect mix of flavors, as well as providing some creamy texture to the whole cuisine.
The Moroccan and North African Region
For all that have tickets to the spices train, please come aboard.
This region is rather well known for the following ingredients:
- Dried fruits;
- and Tumeric
In one word: exotic flavors. This type of cooking tends to include both (and sometimes, combine both) the sweet and savory. But, if you’re not a spicy food fan, no worries. Strong flavors don’t always mean spicy-ness.
The Southern European Region
This region can be summarized in traditional Spanish cuisine. The ingredients tend to be rich in:
- Cheeses of all types, like cows, sheep, and goat cheese;
- Olive oil;
- and Thyme
All of the above gets you a special cuisine flavor that favors garlic and olive oil, regardless of the region of Spain that you’re looking for.
Interestingly-enough, you’ll find that the majority of Spanish dishes are inspired by Roman, and Arabic cuisine, with a strong focus on fresh seafood. That’s why you can easily find lovely seafood stews with sweet paprika, as they like combining sweet and savory flavors.
The Basics of the Mediterranean Diet
Now that you have a better grasp of what the elements of Mediterranean cuisine look like, it’s time to dive into what constitutes a Mediterranean diet.
But, you’ll want to take a quick look at these Mediterranean diet tips, before you look at the basics. Now, onward with the show.
In the Mediterranean diet, you’ll want to eat foods that are rich in fruits, nuts, vegetables, bread, herbs, spices, whole grains, seafood, fish, as well as olive oil.
Besides, you’ll want to moderate your intake of eggs, cheese, yogurt, and poultry, with a rare appearance of red meat, every once in a while.
Furthermore, you’re expected to completely cut added sugars out of your diet, processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, refined oils and grains, and any other type of food that’s been highly processed.
General Recommendations on the Mediterranean Diet
You’ll want to keep in mind that there are a lot of people who have different ideas about what constitutes “The Mediterranean Diet.” After all, there is a clear variation in cuisine when it comes to the key regions.
Yet, the diet that has been examined in the majority of the studies tends to have high amounts of plant foods, and low amounts of animal-based foods, with a focus on eating fish and seafood approximately twice a week.
Ready for a Diet Change?
There’s a reason why people use the terms the Mediterranean “diet” and the Mediterranean “lifestyle” interchangeably. This isn’t a quick 30-day diet that you can pick up for a short while then discard for the new fad diet.
To get the best out of the Mediterranean flavors and diet, you’ll want to stick to it for a big chunk of time. We hope that our guide n the basics of the Mediterranean diet and flavors was helpful on your journey to improving your physical and mental health.