In the Middle East, for example, pasta is not as common, so chick peas and other grains replace the pasta in their diet. However, the dietary principles are similar: it is a balance of simple and complex carbohydrates, proteins, and non-saturated (and some saturated) fats. There is a heavy reliance on complex carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits, though it differs from the northern European diets. The extensive use of olive oil is common in both diets, and as a mono-saturated fat is healthier than saturated fats, it allegedly helps lower cholesterol levels.
Below is a list of a Mediterranean diet’s characteristics from the American Heart Association:
Fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals in high consumptions
Vegetables and legumes; potatoes, peas and beans
Nuts and seeds
Olive oil-which is an important monounsaturated fat source.
Fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
Eggs zero to four times a week
Wine consumed in low or moderate amounts
Pasta is now normally part of an athletes’ diet as is Parmesan cheese. The importers food and the athletic trainers believe in Parmesan cheese’s highly nutritive qualities and it is now their recommended diet. As I mentioned on several parts of the web site what comes to mind as Italian food in the United States is not what Italian eat in Italy – from a nutritionist’s point of view.
According to FAO, data for yearly food consumption is as follows: England: 91kg fruit 89kg of vegetables. USA: 113kg fruit 129kg Vegetable Italy: 140kg fruit 180kg of vegetables! You can see from the data that the English do not consume a large majority of fruits and vegetables, and if they keep on cooking vegetables “English style” they can assume to take in even less nutrients. The Italians consume large portions of fruits and vegetables. However, this Italian fruit and vegetable habit can not assume to be the same with Italian cooking habits in the United States. The most ‘popular’ Italian food in the United States is “pizza.” This “pizza” can not be considered eligible for satisfying one’s daily vegetable requirements (considering veggie toppings?-they are minuet and cooked).
When people talk to going to an Italian restaurant, they mention pizza or pasta. Only the high-end Italian restaurants in the United States offer a good variety of vegetables. It is even rarer to find fruits being served at the end of a meal. Salad itself is most often served with pre-prepared dressings, that Euro-Italians have never seen, and lack good quality which cannot compare to the taste of fresh olive oil and a mild vinegar (Actually some of these salad dressings are so high in fat, that they eliminate the benefits of eating salads). Many vegetables used in Chinese-American cooking, but Italian-American cooking lacks essentials of a good old-fashioned Mediterranean diet.
Salads and vegetables are overwhelmed with sauces and cheese. Maybe, you’d be able to find eggplant parmigiana, but some disadvantages also arise, like that of eating this eggplant that was fried and smothered with fatty cheeses. Pizza itself is cooked differently in the United States than in Italy.