Greek Gastronomy and Diet

A tradition whose origins are lost in the mists of time!

Gastronomy has been deeply rooted in the Greek culture and lifestyle since ancient times. The Greek land produces unique products that contribute to the good health of Greeks. Why not join them by discovering the Mediterranean diet and its benefits.


What gastronomy is

The word "gastronomy" derives from the Ancient Greek words γαστήρ (gastḗr= stomach) and νόμος (nomos=laws that govern). We use gastronomy to describe the art of making good and delicious food.

This includes combining good food with good wine or other beverages, and it is not limited to cooking; it is more like a canvas painted repeatedly on various different themes.

The Greek ritual of enjoying a meal, particularly the combination of what you eat and where you eat it each time, cannot be repeated, exported or re-enacted. That's what makes Greek gastronomy stand out.

Culinary art and gastronomy can take you on a trip down memory lane through tastes and flavours, which make you feel warm and fuzzy as you recall gastronomic experiences of the past.

Cooking is like singing. Anyone can cook; a good cook, though, will create their own version, their personal execution of a dish, just as a singer performs the lyrics in their own style, avoiding to imitate the original performer.


Archestratus, the father of gastronomy

Archestratus was an ancient Greek poet from Gela or Syracuse, Sicily, who lived sometime in the mid-4th century BC and was known as the "father of gastronomy". His most famous work, Hedypatheia or Gastronomy, is considered the first cookbook (330 BC) and was held in high esteem by Athenaeus in his Philosophers at Dinner (in Greek Deipnosophistai), composed around 200 AD.

This humorous didactic poem advises a gastronomic reader on where to find the best food in the Mediterranean world, including several recipes and instructions on how to prepare dishes, focusing mostly on fish.

About the Mediterranean diet

The concept of a Mediterranean diet was developed in the early 1960s, during a study known as the Seven Countries Study. This study looked into the dietary habits of the populations of various regions, as well as their health status.

It was found that inhabitants of the Mediterranean, namely Crete and Corfu, had better health and longer life expectancy than the inhabitants of other countries. This difference was attributed to their eating habits.

Since November 2010, the Mediterranean diet has been recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

There can be no Mediterranean diet without Greek cuisine; at the same time, the Greek cuisine constantly promotes the Mediterranean diet. 

The Mediterranean diet is not just a nutritional regimen; it is part of the Greek economy, tradition and culture.

Rather than just a diet plan, the Mediterranean diet is a way of life. The secret lies in regular physical exercise, whereas enjoying a meal with others promotes the very culture of the Mediterranean peoples; a spirit of energy that blooms when watered with companionship.


Mediterranean diet products

The proper Mediterranean diet is based on:

  • Fresh fruit and seasonal vegetables.
  • Seeds (preferably wholemeal products).
  • Olive oil, legumes, herbs and spices.
  • Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
  • Fish and seafood, consumed no less than twice a week.

Water is also very important for the proper hydration of the body.

Discover the secrets of the Greek and Messinian cuisines.



The benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Thanks to the vitamin, antioxidant and fibre content of the Mediterranean diet products, but also because of their low energy density, they help maintain a normal weight.

This makes perfect sense; the Mediterranean diet is quite filling, as it includes wholemeal products, lean protein and a large quantity of fruit and vegetables.

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • Longevity.
  • Good heart function, since it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Smaller incidence of strokes and hypertension.
  • Reduced risk of developing type II diabetes.
  • Possible reduced risk for some types of cancer, such as colon and breast cancer.
  • Possible positive effects on psychological and neurological diseases, such as depression, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
  • Weight loss.

Useful tips for a healthy diet

Changing your habits and choosing a healthier lifestyle is not hard.

  • Fruit and vegetables – Eat 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Vegetables must not be over-boiled and you should mostly go for unripe fruits.
  • Dairy products – Consume low-fat dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt).
  • Fish and seafood – Prefer to eat them fresh, and avoid cured or fried fish and seafood.
  • Meat – Eat lean meats and remove the skin from meat, just like you do with chicken. Eat meatgrilled or boiled. Avoid red meat (e.g. eat red meat once a week only).
  • Cereals – Choose whole grains (e.g. multi-grain bread, wholegrain cereals and pasta).
  • Olive oil – Always use olive oil in your cooking and salads.
  • Red wine – A glass of red wine (120 ml) for women or up to 2 glasses for men protects your cardiovascular system.
  • Daily exercise – In addition to proper nutrition, you should also exercise on a daily basis. Just a 20-minute walk a day is enough to help you stay healthy!

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