Are you a fan of Spanish food? Have you always been attracted to the Mediterranean diet? Not only does this type of cuisine offer some tantalizingly tasty dishes, but its associated health benefits have been known for centuries. While it might be necessary to learn Spanish if you wish to visit a traditional restaurant, appreciating the natural goodness of these foods will not require bilingual skills.
Why do many feel that the Spanish diet is extremely healthy? Whether you are looking to turn over a new leaf or you simply wish to enjoy a handful of tasty foreign dishes, it pays to take a closer look at this question.
The Nearly Ubiquitous Presence of Olive Oil
Olive oil is a component of countless Spanish dishes. This only stands to reason when we consider that Spain was a primary exporter of such oils as far back as the Roman times. Science has uncovered a host of advantages associated with virgin olive oil. These include:
- Olive oil helps prevent the formation of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.
- Olive oil keeps the skin looking younger and vibrant.
- Olive oil improves circulation.
- This substance is packed full of antioxidants.
Indeed, these same observations have not been lost on the Spanish-speaking population.
Locally Sourced Ingredients
Another reason why this type of food is healthy involves how it is produced and harvested. The majority of staple products tend to be derived from local sources. As a result, they are less likely to contain harmful preservatives and flavorings; a massive advantage in terms of taste and overall quality. The same cannot be said for the mass-produced items often associated with s such as England and the United States.
A Diet High in Fish Products
Fish are known for containing high levels of omega fatty acids. These fatty acids can improve cardiovascular health and help to lower blood pressure over time. Thanks to the proximity of Spain to the Mediterranean Sea, many of the most popular dishes (such as paella) contain fresh fish. Eating fish is also a healthier alternative to a diet high in red meat due to lower levels of saturated fat.
More Relaxed Approaches to Dining
Spanish culture is just as important to mention in terms of healthy eating. Meals tend to last much longer when compared to other societies. Thus, more time is allowed for digestion. This helps to prevent issues such as cramping and indigestion. It is also thought that relaxed settings help the body absorb more nutrients from the food itself.
Although you are not required to adopt a full-time Spanish diet, why not throw in a few meals from time to time? They are generally easy to prepare and they could represent welcome changes if you are looking for a bit of change. Thankfully, you can peruse thousands of online recipes to choose the most delectable treats.
Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Although there is no doubt that lean meats and fish comprise a significant portion of the Spanish diet, we need to remember that fruits and vegetables play an equally important role. Indeed, many dishes are accompanied with traditional side plates of “pan con tomate” (bread smeared with fresh tomato paste” and stuffed olives. The end result is that individuals will be receiving a host of essential vitamins and minerals that would otherwise be lacking in western menus. Let’s also point out that Spain is one of the world’s largest producers of citrus fruits. This is why it is not uncommon for a meal to be accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed orange or mandarin juice.
Benefits in Terms of Weight Loss
Obesity is a growing problem throughout the western world and this condition has already contributed to countless deaths. It did not take long for scientists to note that Mediterranean societies suffered far less from such a dangerous ailment. Of course, the foods eaten play an important role. Many studies have found that the anti-inflammatory properties found within typical Spanish foods can help individuals to reduce their overall body mass index (BMI).
Furthermore, diets rich in fruits and vegetables provide a great deal of fiber. One of the benefits of fiber is that it enables us to feel fuller for longer. Therefore, cravings are much less likely to occur. Fiber likewise contributes to a healthy digestive tract while helping the body to absorb the vital nutrients that it requires to function properly.
Taking Sugar Out of the Equation
Spanish cuisine is extremely tasty and yet, the majority of foods are exceedingly low in sugar. This is certainly not the case when compared to traditional western diets. Sugar has always contributed to weight gain and this occurs for several reasons:
- It is slightly addictive; causing us to desire sugar-laden foods more than their natural counterparts.
- Sugar crashes after a meal significantly lower our basal metabolic rate (BMR). Therefore, we are less likely to perform physical activities.
- Sugar tricks the brain into believe that we have not consumed a sufficient number of calories.
It should therefore be abundantly clear that low-sugar diets are extremely healthy. Let’s also remember that meals containing minimal amounts of sugar can help to stave off other issues such as cavities, gum disease and even adult-onset (type 2) diabetes).
A Diet High in Antioxidants
Another interesting observation involves the high levels of antioxidants that are found in many Spanish foods. Antioxidants serve several important roles. They help to prevent cellular damage, they can reduce levels of inflammation and they may even contribute to the prevention of serious conditions such as heart disease. This is arguably one of the reasons why mortality rates are lower in Mediterranean countries as a whole. While a significant amount of research still needs to be carried out, the correlation between antioxidants and a healthy lifestyle are already abundantly clear.