Being on a particular diet does not simply mean losing weight and looking more fabulous in an effort to emulate role models spread throughout the Internet and other media sources. A diet describes the total consumption of food by a person and their regular eating habits. However, a good and effective diet must primarily aim at strengthening the organism and ensuring a healthy way of life by eliminating any possible food-related health issues. The people of the island of Ikaria seem to have found the answer to the various diet problems emerging over time.
Their diet patterns are characterized by simplicity and variation following the generally known Mediterranean diet, which calls for more natural edible ingredients in combination with exercise and a healthy social life.
The following list presents different “youth elixirs” tested by the people of the Greek island over the centuries. So make sure you do not forget to include them in you daily routine.
Olive oil: Olive oil is the most representative source of monounsaturated fat acids and is rich in antioxidants. It has been proved to have cardioprotective properties and significantly contributing to the increase of “good” HDL cholesterol. Furthermore, olive oil exhibits protective properties against breast cancer. Because it displays higher thermal resistance during cooking, its use is recommended as the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet.
Antioxidants: Food sources rich in antioxidants help people live longer, according to a series of relevant studies, because they block free radicals produced by the human body and responsible for stress and aging. The antioxidants include various vitamins such as C, E, Q10, the B-carotene, lycopene and selenium, and are found in all fruits and vegetables with bright colors, such as citrus, tomato, kiwi, pomegranate, watermelon, berries etc. Sufficient daily intake of fruit and vegetables, at least three to four servings of each group respectively is essential. Moreover, red wine and green tea contain other antioxidants, flavonoids and polyphenols, which are most useful to the human body. It is recommended to drink a glass of wine with lunch.
Vegetables: This group of edibles helps the bowel function. Vegetables are rich in water and hydrate the body, while they are also a source of vitamins and minerals needed to boost the immune system. For example, carrots are rich in vitamin D, which protects your eyes and skin, tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which reduces the risk of certain types of cancer and chronic diseases, potatoes are rich in potassium, which regulates blood pressure, and broccoli is a source of calcium for strong bones. Vegetables additionally contain large amounts of folic acid (especially dark green leafy vegetables, which has been found to protect from cardiovascular problems and pregnancy defects. Wild leafy vegetables found almost everywhere in Greece contain high amounts of flavonoids.
Garlic: Studies have revealed that garlic protects both the heart and brain cells. Deemed as an elixir of youth, garlic actually detoxifies and strengthens the immune system. After regular use it can lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and deter blood clotting. Another property of garlic is that it combats bacteria and fungi, and therefore reduces the risk of infections and food poisoning. A clove of garlic per day is enough to witness its therapeutic properties.
Strawberries and blueberries: Both fruit groups are exceptionally good sources of antioxidants protecting against various degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Raw, fruit salads, or fresh juices are some of the ways to consume them.
Omega-3 fatty acids and fish: Sardines, salmon, herring, trout are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and are cardioprotective, help lower triglyceride levels in the blood and are very essential to the operation and development of the nervous system, preventing the development of degenerative dementia.
Nuts: Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are rich in gamma-tocopherol and vitamin E, which help monitor the levels of lipids, lowering levels of LDL cholesterol so as to prevent clogging of the arteries with plaque formation .
Wholegrain cereals: Wholegrain cereals are better for the human organism because they have undergone less processing, thus retaining more of their nutritional value. Wholegrain bread, pasta and rice can easily join in the weekly diet exerting a protective effect against various types of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In this way, the overall diet is enriched with more fiber to treat constipation.