ideas of Italian food in the United States is not what Italians eat
in Italy! (from a nutritional viewpoint).
FAO, data for yearly food consumption is as follows:
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 cooking vegetables in the traditional
"English style" results in even less nutrient consumption. The
Italians consume large portions of fruits and vegetables, which is
unlike the Italian-style cooking habits in the United States where
the most 'popular' Italian food is pizza. Even a veggie topped
pizza does not come close to satisfying recommended daily vegetable
often think of pizza, pasta with "Alfredo" sauce (which doesn't
exist in Italy!), or plates smothered with cheese. In reality,
only high-end Italian restaurants in the United States
offer a good variety of vegetables more similar to that of an
authentic Italian diet. Another Italian staple is to eat fruit at
the end of every meal--something you don't find in just any Italian
restaurant in the States! Salads and pre-prepared dressings
are unknown creations to Italians and don't compare to the taste
of fresh olive oil and a quality balsamic vinegar. Overall, Italian-American cooking lacks
the essentials of a good, traditional Mediterranean diet.
Here is a Sicilian Mediterranean Diet
or croissant for breakfast OR 1 slice of bread, cookies, toast, or cereals for breakfast
with honey or jams
of fruit 2 times per day (as snacks)
of vegetables 2 times per day
of fish 3 times a week
than 2 eggs per week
more than once a week
or rice at least 5 times a week - only for lunch (not allowed
oil as dressing (to replace saturated fats like butter)
consume too much alcohol
than 150g of meat two times in a week
Inguanta is my personal Nutritionist. She is Sicilian and
she lives in Palermo (Sicily, Italy). Sicily is the heart
of the Mediterranean Diet!!!!
pasta with a simple sauce with fresh tomatoes.
"Alfredo Sauce" (which is unknown in Italy) and cream and
butter based sauces. In Italy, cream-based pasta has been out of
style since the 1980s. Avoid those strange bread sticks that come
with American Pizza - fresh bread is healthier.
breakfast is frugal--it usually consists of yogurt or milk or coffee
and milk with a Cornetto (or if you are eating it at home, cookies).
While in the U.S., people are taught to eat a large, healthy,
filling breakfast, many consider the Italian breakfast insufficient.
is some truth to this, breakfast is important to give you energy for
the day...we're no longer working the fields and instead find
ourselves seated behind computers. The goal is to limit our calorie
A high fat
breakfast is different than a high energy breakfast. Fat makes your
body slow down, takes longer to digest, and fogs the mind. Grains
give high energy without all the fat and mind fogging. If we take in
more calories than are burned throughout the day, these calories or
sugars transform themselves into fat.
toast with fruits are fine for breakfast, so the Italian breakfast
is right on track.
Having a snack in the middle of the morning is good. Usually
an Italian snack is either a piece of fruit or a juice.
One example of a Sicilian lunch is a one course meal like pasta or a
panino and a salad or piece of fruit.
Afternoon snack: A yogurt or some fruit.
Dinner: Fish, meat or chicken dishes are usually eaten for
dinner with a vegetable side dish.
is usually eaten only once a week (generally on Saturday night).
Drinks: Natural mineral water or carbonated
"sparkling" water are generally consumed by Italians anywhere from 1
to 2 liters per day. No more than half a liter of wine a day
(of course varies, but this in an average). Other drinks, like
sodas, are consumed rarely compared to Americans. They are
usually consumed on the weekends as companion to the weekly pizza.
The "Slow Food" movement, initiated to encourage the enjoyment,
moderate consumption, and in effect counter fast food, began in
Italy and Sicily. This Slow Foods movement has now spread
globally and many chapters can be found in the United States as
each province has it's own Slow Food Chapter that organizes events
and public demonstrations.
diets are characterized by olive oil, as the dominant fat source and
a high to moderate consumption of fruit and vegetables, grains, fish,
and legumes, in combination with a little meat and wine with meals.
The actual phrase "Mediterranean diet" differs according to country,
but is associated with good health and eating practices extending
life expectancy. After studying countries of the Mediterranean diet,
a decrease has been seen in coronary heart disease, cancer and other
The Mediterranean diet
is low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fatty acids,
high in antioxidants (especially vitamin C and E), and high in fiber
and folic acid. Several epidemiological studies have investigated
these dietary components in various forms and further support the
positive health effects of the Mediterranean diet. Intervention
studies in East Finland and Southern Italy have convincingly shown
that the coronary risk profile (lower LDL cholesterol and blood
pressure levels) is improved by a Mediterranean diet.
the control diet with cardiac patients, the "Mediterranean diet" has
proven to lower cardiac and all-causes mortality. In addition to
lower disease risks and increased longevity, the Mediterranean way
of eating is tasty, enjoyable, flavorful, and results in an overall
sense of well being and satisfaction.
The benefits are real!