Dipping Dish Gourmet

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Olive Oil And Seafood Are Abundant In The Mediterranean Diet

The studies on the Mediterranean diet point out the role of abundant olive oil and Mediterranean Sea in shaping the eating habits and lifestyle of people living in the Mediterranean countries. Unlike the United States where meat products are preferred, Seafood cooked in olive oil is more popular in these countries. Obviously, the majestic omnipresence of Mediterranean Sea creates the availability of fresh and inexpensive seafood, particularly small fish and shellfish as their main source of protein. In fact, exotic cuisines of every Mediterranean country pervasively use olive oil and seafood, regardless of different varieties of fish and vegetables that define the specific taste and aroma of these dishes.

The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood and alpha-linolenic acid present in the olive oils provide the real health advantage in preventing heart-related complications and reduced chances of heart attacks. It has been proven beyond any doubts that Omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks. The study report highlighted the role of fatty fish consumption in reducing the risks of heart attacked were first published in the late 1970s. The researchers found that there was hardly any incidence of coronary heart disease among the Greenland Eskimos, who mainly consumed fish. Further studies revealed the role of omega-3 fatty acids in maintaining the flexibility of artery walls and preventing the blood from clotting and accumulating on the artery walls, which may cause heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids also promote regular rhythm of the heart rate, thereby, preventing any heart attack from disrupted rhythm. The research established the role of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing the risk of heart attack and preventing other heart-related complications.

The promising role of omega-3 fatty acids in promoting good health encouraged many researchers to conduct human trials for evaluating its effectiveness in the treatment and prevention of various health complications. The extensive studies across the world revealed that health benefits from consuming omega-3 fatty acids are not limited to the Greenland Eskimos. The clinical studies also highlighted its role in preventing secondary attacks in people who had already suffered a heart attack. Tuffs Health and Nutrition Letter reported that fish consumption reduced the chances of secondary heart attack by thirty percent during the next two-year period. Even after this two-year period, the patients on regular fish-diet suffered only one-fifth cardiac deaths and one-third nonfatal heart attacks in comparison to the other group, who preferred not to eat fish. Nutrition Action Newsletter also reported that eating fish twice a week during the study phase of the two-year period decreased the heart-related death rates by 29 percent. Other studies also confirmed the role of fish oil in stabilizing muscle cells of the heart and correcting cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats. It was found that omega-3 fatty acids promote the functions of myocardial cells by preventing calcium loss. Another study demonstrated that regular consumption of fatty fish (salmon) once a week can reduce the cardiac arrests by fifty percent in comparison to people who don’t eat fatty fish on a regular basis.

Mediterranean countries are known for their seafood specialties, including baked fish delicacies. For example, paella, which is traditionally studded with shellfish like shrimp, scallops, and mussels have emerged as the hallmarks of Spanish cuisine around the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Similarly, bouillabaisse is the perfect seafood stew in France. Scallops or other shellfish cooked in olive oil are an absolute delicacy when served with a butter-garlic sauce. Poached fish provide a sense of pride to the French cook who can prepare it. Risotto with delicious clams, shrimp or squid is the ultimate cuisine of luxury restaurants in Italy. Swordfish baked with capers and olive oil is greatly enjoyed. Swordfish is generally served with pine nuts or other dry fruits. In the Middle East, fish is enjoyed with a number of flavoring sauces. Marinated octopus is considered to be a good appetizer in Greek meals, but fish baked with different vegetables and flavored with lemon and olive oil serves as the main meal. When you visit Moroccan coasts, you will enjoy fish stuffed with spiced rice, which is flavored with seasoned marinade or baked before skewering or grilling.

In the United States, meat and dairy products are more popular than fish cuisines. Although, fresh seafood is difficult to find in landlocked regions, but locally available fish can be substituted for making the traditional Mediterranean recipes. You don’t need Mediterranean native fish to cook with olive oil and vegetables in the Mediterranean style. The crabs, lobsters, mussels and shrimps in the local market may be different in variety when compared to the French markets, but they can still be substituted for cooking Mediterranean recipes. If you don’t feel comfortable in cooking these special recipes, you can just grill, bake, poach or steam your fish or shellfish with olive oil and use lemon for flavoring. You will enjoy your simple dish as the low-fat food source fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the high-fat fishes like albacore, bluefish, salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, mackerel and other fishes that thrive under the ocean depths are highly beneficial for good health. Don’t get disheartened if you are a vegetarian. Fatty fishes thriving under the depths of the ocean are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, but they are not the only source of this beneficial fatty acid. Vegetable oils like canola, flaxseed and olive oil contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is a kind of omega-3 fatty acid. Walnut, soybeans and beans are other good sources of alpha-linolenic acid. In fact, alpha-linolenic acid is found in many plant foods such as avocados, broccoli, kale, strawberries and wheat germ. Alpha-linolenic acids are equally effective in preventing heart-related complications and reducing the chances of heart attack. In one such study, it was found that alpha linolenic acid decreased heart-related deaths by 50 percent in women who consumed about 1.4 grams of alpha-linolenic acid per day in comparison to women who included least amount of alpha-linolenic acid in their diet. You can get this amount by including just one-third cup of olive oil in your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the stickiness of blood so that there are no chances of clogged arteries. Although, the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are more pronounced in heart-related complications, the health advantages of consuming omega-3 fatty acids extend beyond their highlighted role. Nutrition experts believe that antioxidant properties of omega-3 fatty acids can completely rejuvenate your body. So, include olive oil and fish in your diet to benefit from health advantages of a Mediterranean diet.

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