Italian Food

Italian food is a way of life. Healthy eating is at the top of the list. Learn how this cultural dimension can improve your health!

The Italian people live life with enthusiasm and spontaneity, ever aware of the changes in seasons, in minute deal and with a great deal of celebrating each new and subtle change. Italians know just when the cherry trees will blossom and savor each day's changing landscape. In a people so sensitive to nature, it's no surprise that this should extend to Italian food as well.

The fruits of the garden, forests, streams and oceans are enjoyed each at their brief seasons. When fennel is in season, the Italian cook puts together every fennel concoction, which families enjoy, day after day. Then the fennel is gone and the ritual is repeated with the next new food.

It stands to reason that foods, picked and prepared at the height of freshness, are more nutritious. The liberal use of olive oil contributes to a healthy cardiovascular system. Fresh fish are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. Lots of greens find their way into Italian food, so you get your healthy dose of fiber. There's no question that the Italian diet is good for you.

However, this isn't all there is to it. What you eat certainly contributes to a healthy or ill condition. When you add the cultural dimension of Italian food enjoyment to the simple eating of the food, the health benefits you get are greatly magnified.

In America, the hectic pace of life may force us to gobble down a meal in mere minutes. We end up with this eating pattern as the norm. We barely have time to enjoy the food. This isn't good for the digestion and chances are that it wasn't all that nutritious or freshly cooked. This common 'grab a meal' style just adds to our everyday stress.

By contrast, Italians take meal time very seriously. When they sit down to a meal, they intend to enjoy every bite. Much conversation centers on the particular virtues of that beautiful asparagus dish, or the particularly fragrant wild mushrooms in this pasta. A lunch or dinner may easily last three hours. People eat slowly, converse, laugh a lot and enjoy their food. You can see how this would be good for your digestion and decrease your tension and stress.

Simplicity is also signature in Italian food dishes. For example, a famous and of course, seasonal Roman dish is puntarelli, composed of ice-crispy chicory leaves, served with an anchovy vinaigrette. The combination is heavenly, but certainly simple. Italians are masters of the perfectly matched ingredients.

Although there are many famous and highly caloric sweet Italian desserts, these are not everyday fare. Dessert usually consists of a plate of cheese and fresh fruit. The cheese is a locally produced fresh cheese and the fruit is at the peak of the season.

Take up the Mediterranean diet and take the time to enjoy it, Italian style. You'll probably live to a ripe old age.

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