It’s commonly known that Italian kitchens are the undisputed champions when it comes to delicious European food. (sorry we’re not sorry, French gourmands) A less publicized fact, however, is how many health benefits are locked away in our dishes. Italian meals are low in saturated fats and have high levels of dieterary fiber and antioxidant properties. And if that last sentence sounded like gibberish to you, keep reading for our layman’s guide to the health benefits of the Italian diet:
Health Benefit #1: Lose Weight the Natural Way
The backbone of Italian cooking is fruits and vegetables. (not pizza, as some of you might believe) When it comes to the right ratio of high nutrients to low calories, nothing beats the spinach, fruits, greens, and tomatoes that are found in most Italian dishes. Leafy greens like arugula and kale are nutritional marathon runners, offering vitamins, potassium, and fiber and pairing well with a variety of meat and pasta dishes. Our cuisine is built on dishes that fuel your body, not ones that just stuff your stomach.
Health Benefit #2: Goodbye Bad Cholesterol, Hello Good Cholesterol
Nuts are present in every part of an Italian meal, making great snacks, aperitifs, and sides. They add texture to many a salad, pasta, or meat dish. They are also an nutritional powerhouse: offering up tons of fat that is nutritional instead of harmful. This works perfectly off the other mainstay of Italian cuisine: olive oil. Olive oil offers up high amounts of HDL cholesterol, a kind of fat that fuels your body and removes unhealthy cholesterol from your bloodstream. (yes, it’s basically a nutritional version of Robin Hood) All of the great tastes, none of the detrimental effects to the heart. Oh, and speaking of hearts…
Health Benefit #3: The Power of the Sea
Seafood is one of the main sources of protein in Italian dining. It’s also one of the healthiest sources of protein, period. Shrimps and scallops are a great source of healthy minerals, while larger fish like salmon bring you the holy grail of nutritional elements: omega 3 fatty acids. The extensive health benefits of Omega 3 would be enough to fill up an entire article all by themselves (like this one), but for those of us on a tight schedule, here’s the condensed version: it’s a proven way to reduce high blood pressure and prevent a multitude of heart diseases, and it’s been linked with reductions in the effects of arthritis, depression, and memory loss. It’s basically a magic elixir that makes your body work better, administered through a delicious seafood primavera.
Health Tip #4: Garlic by the Savior
This is it. The secret weapon. Garlic is used to season and prepare all kinds of Italian dishes, and it’s no accident. The list of health benefits garlic can bring will surprise many. Know what has antibacterial nutrients that can stop a cold dead in its tracks? Garlic. Looking for a food that will help reduce your blood pressure? Garlic. Regulate the creation of fat cells and reduce weight gain? Garlic. Increase insulin? Reduce toothaches? Lower the risk of breast, stomach, throat, and skin cancer? All garlic, baby, and that’s not even the full list. And to think it gets a bad reputation just because of what it does to your breath… Grab a breath mint and join us for a dinner that’ll get you healthy in no time.