If you already are a fan of grape leaves and spinach and feta pie, then you probably don’t need the upsell, but just in case you haven’t eaten Mediterranean lately, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.
According to a 2015 study from the National Restaurant Association, the strongest growth in ethnic cuisines over the last 15 years has been among non-traditional cuisines.
“While the ‘big three’ – Italian, Mexican and Chinese – have retained their popularity over time, some lesser known cuisines have gained significant ground with consumers over the past decade and a half,” said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the National Restaurant Association. “Mediterranean food is the big winner both when it comes to one-time trial and for eating frequently.”
And not only is the food delicious, but it’s good for you too.
Brittany Link, a registered dietitian and certified wellness coach with Advice for Eating – Nutrition and Wellness Consulting, said that the Mediterranean diet emphasizes seafood as a protein source which is a great way to get a healthy dose of Omega 3 fatty acids.
She notes that Omega 3’s are indicated in lowering both inflammation and overall cholesterol.
“These high quality proteins and fats also help to keep you satiated, which will help with overall weight loss as well,” said Link.
The health benefits only continue.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables are at the heart of the Mediterranean diet – not only are these a great source of antioxidants that help to fight disease and lower inflammation, they are also a great way to increase fiber intake which can help lower cholesterol and keep you feeling full longer – aiding in weight loss,” said Link. “Because a fiber rich diet helps to slow the digestive processes, it also ensures that blood sugars stay more stable rather than dipping too low or spiking too high throughout the day.”
Link also notes that the use of olive oil is emphasized in the Mediterranean diet. She said that olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, specifically one called oleic acid which is known to be heart healthy. And that diets rich in monounsaturated fats have been found to help reduce total cholesterol by lowering LDL (the bad cholesterol), raising HDL (the good cholesterol) and lowering triglycerides. Olive oil is also rich in polyphenols – antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in the body and fight free radical damage.
“Overall the Mediterranean diets emphasizes eating fresh, whole foods – by increasing these you will naturally be reducing the amount of processed and sugary foods that tend to be staples in the standard American diet these days,” concludes Link.
Lucky for those of us on the Northside, Aladdin Mediterranean is soon to open at 34th and Ella in Revive’s Ella Oaks complex. Their closest location currently is in Montrose.
Ali Nahhas, who started in the food business over 20 years ago, told The Leader he is really looking forward to being part of the Oak Forest, Garden Oaks, and Heights communities. And those communities are eagerly waiting for some heart healthy Mediterranean as soon as he opens his doors.