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Images of Ikaria, Greece appear courtesy of Blue Zones.The setting sun. The clear blue sea. Meals filled with fresh foods like fruits, whole grains, beans, potatoes and olive oil. Doesn’t sound bad, right? The people of Ikaria, Greece, enjoy living well — even at very old ages.
In fact, people there live 10 years longer on average than those in the rest of Europe and America. One in 3 lives into their 90s. And they also have much lower rates of cancer and heart disease. They suffer less depression and dementia. And they are active well into their 90s
What’s Ikaria's secret?
One of the keys to their happy life is the Mediterranean way of eating. They do not follow a “diet.” Rather, they and other Mediterranean cultures are living a healthy life. Eat Like the GreeksThe Mediterranean diet involves:
It’s not about just the food, but also the act of making meals and enjoying them among family and friends. The act of cooking, eating and cleaning up a meal is something that is done with others.
A large recent study showcased the value of the Mediterranean way of eating. The results were so telling that researchers stopped the study early so the control group could also enjoy the diet’s benefits. Some of the researchers even started eating that way, too.
Groups like the American Heart Association and The American Diabetes Association even back this approach to eating.
But keep in mind, eating this way is not a cure-all. You can still pack on the pounds if you eat too much. Exercise should still be a priority in a healthy life.
You don’t have to take a trip for a taste of the Greek life. Try this recipe to enjoy Mediterranean food at home: Chickpeas with Sun-Dried TomatoesPrep Time: 15 minutesServings: Four Ingredients1 red onion, small, sliced into rings2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, diced1 medium tomato, chopped2½ cups chickpeas, canned, rinsed and drained1 tablespoon olive oil½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and diced DirectionsWarm the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, for two to three minutes or until tender. Add the stock stock and chopped tomatoes. Cook for three to four minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes and vinegar. Cook for one to two minutes, or until heated through.
Resources: Mediterranean Diet, American Heart Association, 2016; Eating Patterns and Meal Planning, American Diabetes Association, 2017; When Diet Meets Delicious, New York Times, 2013; The Island Where People Forget to Die, The Blue Zones Project, 2013; Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet, New England Journal of Medicine, 2013.
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