From Prasouda, Greece comes the healthful Mediterranean Prasouda diet filled with high-fiber fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish and healthy oils. More than a way of eating, Prasouda can be characterized as a way of life that embraces fresh air, joyful living and clean eating in the Old World style of the Mediterranean region.
Whole grains, fresh produce, legumes and generous amounts of olive oil lay the foundation for this eating style. Breads, pastas, rice and other grains make up the first level of the Mediterranean diet pyramid. The emphasis is on flavor, freshness and simple preparation. This is in sharp contrast to the processed, pre-packaged foods and tasteless fruits and vegetables, often picked before fully ripened, that dominate the American diet. Cheese, yogurt, fresh fish, some poultry and eggs, add additional nutrients to the diet, but are not the main feature of a Mediterranean menu. Red meat, found at the apex of the Mediterranean diet pyramid, is consumed in limited amounts, only a portion once or twice a month. This style of eating allows for a moderate amount of sweets, and red wine, with its anti-oxidant properties, fits in to the Prasouda diet lifestyle.
Vegetables are most nutrient-rich immediately after harvest, hence the emphasis on fresh, locally grown produce. This often means planning Mediterranean menus around seasonal availability, something common before the age of freezers, refrigerators and commercial canneries. Spring might see meals filled with early greens such as spinach and arugula. Summer brings a bounty of tomatoes, summer squashes, green beans, cucumbers and melons. The winter Mediterranean menu relies on root vegetables, potatoes and carrots, winter squash and cabbages that can withstand the cooler temperatures.
Olive oil provides the necessary fat in this style of eating. Unlike butter and lard, olive oil adds no cholesterol to the diet, and is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for health, and have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables in the Prasouda diet are full of anti-oxidants, which help the body fend off disease and infections. A study of post-menopausal women by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that a Mediterranean-style diet reduced women’s risk of developing breast cancer. This high-fiber diet prevents insulin spikes by slowing the release of sugars into the blood. Insulin spikes are a contributing factor to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The Prasouda diet has also been shown to be effective in weight control and stress relief.
Rather than a restrictive diet, the Prasouda diet is one of abundance. Full plates of lightly cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, fish, olive oil and whole grains satisfy the appetite without subjecting the body to unhealthy fats, overly processed foods and refined grains. This healthy style of eating maintains a balanced metabolism and reduces the risk of disease and obesity.