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Learning the Mediterranean way of life from Ikaria, Greece

From Sound Dietitians, a partner of the Verdant Health Commission. View the complete blog post and recipes from Sound Dietitians at www.sounddietitians.com/blog/learning-the-mediterranean-way-of-life-from-ikaria-greece.

 

The tiny Blue Zone island of Ikaria, Greece, is known as a place where people forget to die. Blue Zones are areas around the world where people tend to have longer life expectancies and lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Ikaria is one of only five total Blue Zones, which begs the question, what are these islanders doing (besides losing track of time) to live to 100?

The Mediterranean Diet

The people of Ikaria, Greece, eat a Mediterranean-style diet. This diet includes fresh, nutrient-rich, whole foods that may reduce inflammation in the body. The diet also contains a lot of fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats such as omega-3s.

It is known that this type of diet can help prevent heart disease and stroke and lower risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The Oldways Mediterranean Diet Pyramid outlines the defining characteristics of the diet as follows:

  • Plant based foods: fruits, vegetables, bread, grains, potatoes, legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil as main source of added fat
  • Daily consumption of low-to-moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt
  • Consumption of fish and poultry bi-weekly and up to 7 eggs per week
  • Fresh fruit as typical dessert
  • Moderate wine consumption; 1-2 glasses for men and 1 glass for women
  • Limited red meat consumption; a few times a month
  • Regular physical activity

The Ikarian diet especially emphasizes legumes, wild greens, potatoes, goat milk, honey, some fruit, and small amounts of fish. This plant-based diet focuses on local produce and appears to be a key to longevity. With more than 150 varieties of wild greens all over the island, there is plenty for the picking.
 

To keep reading this blog post written by Rachel Brennen, Dietetic Intern from Sound Dietitians, which includes recipes for Tomato Pasta Soup and Winter Potato Salad, visit www.sounddietitians.com/blog/learning-the-mediterranean-way-of-life-from-ikaria-greece.