Healthy Mediterranean Nutrition

By Mirko Albrecht, Dipl. -NC Albrecht71-Albrecht@web. de

One of the keys to Mediterranean nutrition are the many vegetables they use, such as zucchini (squash), tomatoes, aubergines (eggplant), and the culinary herbs like thyme, rosemary, basil and garlic. Pasta with tomato sauce recipes are central in Mediterranean nutrition. In this article, I focus on special foods from Mediterranean areas, like Italy, and the healthy effects these foods have on our body.

Healthy Colors from Vegetables:

Artificial colors are unhealthy, but ripe red tomatoes contain lycopene, and this is very healthy. Tomatoes also contain important minerals and trace minerals such as boron, chromium, copper, zinc and the powerful antioxidant Glutathione (4. 90 mg/100 g).

Lycopene is found in certain fruits like papaya, pink or red grapefruit (1/2 cup, 1. 8 mg), watermelon (1 cup, 7. 8 mg) and vegetables such as tomatoes (fresh tomato, 1 medium, 3. 7 mg or canned tomatoes, 1/2 cup, 11. 8 mg). The body uses Lycopene as antioxidant. Lycopene is a carotinoid without Provitamin-A activity, and it is present in human serum, the liver, lungs and prostate. Lycopene is associated with cancer prevention and may reduce the risk of lung and prostate cancer. I recommend a Lycopene-rich diet, and is a dietary supplement recommended for patients with macular degeneration, environmental (toxin-induced) diseases, and to support healthy eye function.

Tomato sauce is the base in Italian cooking (cut 2 to 3 ripe fresh tomatoes in slices, then finely chop, bring a little olive oil, tomatoes, 2 to 4 fresh basil leaves, salt and garlic of choice to boil for 20 minutes) .

Zucchini (squash) green, light green or yellow can be eaten cooked (with peel) in a warm salad. Cut zucchini in sticks (long side) and cook for a few minutes. Add olive oil or oil of choice, salt and pepper to taste. Zucchini has carotinoides such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, nicotinamide (vitamin B3), and vitamin C.

Aubergine, also known as eggplant, is part of the nightshade (Solanacene) family, which also includes tomatoes or potatoes. The Italians call aubergine "melanzane", and this vegetable contains dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, some B-vitamins and niacin, folate and the trace element manganese. The peel is rich in phenolics, compounds with antioxidant effects. But the peel of aubergines has a bitter taste, so I cut this up.

A Mediterranean Diet to Treat Stomach-Intestine Disorders:

In Italy, a "white diet" is also recommended (mangiare in bianco). This means that all healthy foods are boiled, cooked or steamed without adding any kind of sauce. "(Mangiare in bianco" is a simple and light diet. Fish can be boiled with a pinch of salt and served with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice, or it can be steamed with olive oil or butter or margarine (plant fat) . Any kind of tomato or highly flavoured sauce, and cabbages are not recommended for this diet. No raw vegetables are allowed, and the best cooked fruits are apples and pears. In Italy this "white diet" consists of fish, young chicken, fennel, zucchini, artichoke (Cynara scolymus L. ), fennel and artichoke. These are known as "healing foods" for stomach-intestine-liver disorders.

Some Benefits from the Olive Tree for Health:

The "classic" oil in Mediterranean areas such as Italy and Spain is olive oil. The monounsaturated fatty acids of olive oil stimulate digestion and help to control cholesterol. The olives contain carotinoides, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron and boron. Studies have shown that healthy olive ingredients are the powerful antioxidants phenolic oleuropein. I recommend olive-fruit-oil concentrate as a dietary supplement for high blood pressure. The olive leaf extract in combination with vitamin C (very important to detoxification), and milk thistle/Silymarin (support for liver function) are also good to treat candidiasis or parasites.

Culinary Herbs are Helpful:

Thyme is botanically known as Thymus Vulgaris and has some positive effects; it is bactericidal, antiseptic and carminative. Thyme is a tasty culinary herb in combination with zucchini. Cut 2 or 3 little zucchini in slices, garlic of choice, 2 to 3 pinches dried thyme, and roast (in a pan) for a few minutes. Sea or Himalayan salt to taste. Or mix cooked pasta with tomato sauce and the zucchini recipe together. Grease a baking dish with some butter, lay pasta-tomato-zucchini mix in it, and top with ricotta cheese (or Mozzarella slices), alternate tomato-zucchini mix with cheese layers, with the last layer cheese. Bake mixture in the oven.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) is very popular in the Mediterranean culture and is ideal together with garlic. In a pan roast salmon or trout filet with olive oil, garlic and fresh or dried rosemary. Salt, pepper (when you will) and add a little lemon juice to taste. Rosemary helps improve memory, and is generally good for blood pressure. This culinary herb has the active substances carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid, and ursolic acid, all known as natural antioxidants. Rosemary also has anti-microbial effects.

Garlic has the medicinal ingredients allicin, with antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties. Garlic also is an anti-fungal, helps lower blood pressure and is a support for a healthy immune system.

Basil is known as a very popular culinary herb in Italian cooking and is an excellent nutritious addition to pasta sauce, pesto or Italian tomato salad. Cut 2 or 3 tomatoes in slices or dices, add 10 to 15 green or black olives, 2 tsp. (or more) capers, 1/2 to 1 diced mozzarella (by cow or buffalo milk), 4 to 6 chopped basil leaves and olive oil or oil of choice. Salt, pepper, table vinegar and 2 to 3 tsp. "water of capers" to taste.

Oregano also known as Origanum Vulgare and has antibacterial and anti microbial effects. Oregano as a dried culinary herb is tasty in pasta meals (together with tomato sauce/without basil), pizza, or spicy tomato salad. Cut tomato slices and lay on a plate, add olive oil or oil of choice, dried oregano, salt/pepper and finely chopped onion or shallot, when you will. Oregano (leaf or oil) as dietary supplement is ideal to treat the overproduction of fungus and parasites.

Italian Cheese Ricotta, Morzzarella and Parmesan:

Ricotta is a favourite component of many Italian desserts and can be used in savoury dishes such as pasta, pizza, ravioli and lasagne. Ricotta is an excellent source of calcium for stability and healthy bones. Mozzarella is an Italian soft cheese that contains protein, calcium, iodine and selenium. Mozzarella manufactured by cow milk or buffalo milk is tasty and pure with little salt. It is good used with pasta (noodles) or on pizza. The Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the world's most popular cheeses for spaghetti, homemade tomato sauce with basil. This hard cheese has a high concentration of histamine/biogenic amine, and I recommend this cheese to eat for all allergies and chemical sensitivites. Parmigiano contains much calcium (1. 18 gram/100 gram) and vitamins A and D.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese:

4 litre whole milk (3. 5% fat)
1/2 litre buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
1 sieve
1 cheesecloth

Pour all ingredients in a high pot and bring them to boil. As soon as it boils, minimize the heat. After the mixture begins to coagulate, it forms a fine curd. Begin to ladle it out, and little by little, pour it in the sieve. Do not forget to cover the bottom of sieve with cheesecloth (woven cotton fine cloth or gauze) for better drainage. Let it cool down completely until the curd becomes a solid form. Turn upside down on a dish and take away the cheese cloth. You can cut it in slices or pieces.

Posted January 2010 | Permanent Link

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