Want to live a long and healthy life? Eat as the Greeks do.
An analysis of “blue zones” showed that following a Mediterranean diet may play a significant role in longevity, quality of life, and optimal health. 
In fact, the Mediterranean diet was recently voted the #1 diet in the world according to U.S. News and World Report, out of all popular diets including keto, Atkins, DASH and paleo.  It won this award in 2021 for the fourth consecutive year given how easy it is to follow, the science behind its health benefits and its lack of restriction – it’s truly more of a lifestyle than a diet.
So, what foods do Greeks incorporate into their diet and where do you start? Read on to learn about three Greek foods that you should eat every single day for your health, according to science.
Honey is a natural sweetener that can support digestion as well as immunity. It’s rich in antioxidants and harvested from the power of bees.
Rather than buying ordinary honey, Greeks often eat aromatic honey that isn’t as sweet. Take thyme honey for example, which tastes great and smells wonderful while preserving honey’s nutrient profile.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate honey into your diet is to drink it in milk, yogurt, tea or coffee. Otherwise, eat a spoonful first thing in the morning to get you started with your day.
Did you know that olives are fruits, not vegetables? They’re rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, calcium and copper, to name a few. Kalamata olives, which come from Kalamata, Greece, are especially tasty – you can easily identify them by their almond-like shape and dark purple color.
Although fats in food often get a bad rap, the fats in olives are healthy fats called monounsaturated fatty acids that support your heart health.  These fats help regulate your blood cholesterol by lowering the bad ones and raising the good ones.
Incorporating olives into your diet is so easy. They make a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack to help you feel full before your next big meal. Try pairing them with some cheese, crackers or grapes.
3. High-phenolic extra virgin olive oil
No, this isn’t your everyday olive oil that’s sitting in the pantry.
High-phenolic extra virgin olive oil is less processed, tastes peppery, is more flavorful and has a high phenolic content. Whereas your typical olive oil has a low polyphenol content, extra virgin olive oil has much more antioxidant activity. “Agourolado” (early harvest olive oil) is a unique kind of extra virgin olive oil with the highest polyphenol content. 
The polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil may reduce your risk for chronic disease, death, cancer, type 2 diabetes and more. Learn more about powerful polyphenols in this article.
To start yielding the power of extra virgin olive oil, take a look at what oil you use for your cooking. If it’s regular or light olive oil or any other vegetable oil, consider replacing it with extra virgin olive oil for optimal health benefits.
The bottom line
If you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle, try adopting elements of the Mediterranean diet. The trifecta of honey, olives, and extra virgin olive oil is a great start!
- Ikaria, Greece – Blue Zones
- Best Diets 2021. U.S. News & World Report.
- Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G. Monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil and health status: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Lipids Health Dis. 2014 Oct 1;13:154. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-13-154.
- Gorzynik-Debicka M, Przychodzen P, Cappello F, Kuban-Jankowska A, Marino Gammazza A, Knap N, Wozniak M, Gorska-Ponikowska M. Potential Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Plant Polyphenols. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Feb 28;19(3):686. doi: 10.3390/ijms19030686.
About the author
Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and licensed dietitian based in Indianapolis. She obtained her bachelor of science in nutritional science at Cornell University and her MBA at Indiana University Kelley School of Business. She is the founder and CEO of a nutrition communications firm called Pink Pamplemousse LLC, where she creates engaging nutrition and wellness content for clients. She has also coached clients on various health conditions including heart disease, obesity, digestive issues and diabetes over the last seven years. Visit Chrissy’s website.
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