Eat Like a Greek

Jul 25, 2007
Outside Magazine

One more reason to envy homeowners on Santorini: The incidence of coronary-artery disease in Mediterranean countries is among the world's lowest. Researchers think diet is one of the reasons (lifestyle and social structure are others). A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes that Mediterranean diets lower risk factors such as blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, and C-reactive protein levels. More than 16 countries border the Med, and while there's no one common diet among them, they do share a few staples:
(1) Virgin olive oil: Consume at least a tablespoon daily and your levels of good cholesterol will increase, meaning your risk for heart disease will decrease.
(2) Fish: Eat at least two servings of baked or grilled fish per week. The best kinds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower cholesterol; these include lake trout, salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, and sardines.
(3) Fruits and vegetables: Residents of Greece average nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
(4) Red wine: Don't get all Zorba about this; only a glass or two per day is recommended. Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant, is more abundant in red wine than white.
(5) Nuts: Walnuts are particularly high in omega-3's, but almonds, pecans, pistachios, and hazelnuts are also good sources.
(6) Whole grains: Mediterranean grains aren't processed as much as those you find in the U.S., so they retain more nutrients. And skip the butter.