Italian food isn’t one of America’s favorite foreign cuisines just because it’s delicious — it’s also nutritious. Its dishes are packed with a variety of nutrients from fresh vegetables, colorful fruits, lean meats, oily fish and fiber-rich grains. A Mediterranean diet promotes weight loss, heart health and longevity.
There are a few key, staple ingredients in Italian cuisine that have substantial health benefits.
Garlic delivers nutrients such as Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Manganese, sulfides and fiber plus many more with very low calorie count. It also has antibiotic properties and is a key player in heart health, since it lowers cholesterol.
Its delicious flavor is heavily relied upon in Italian cuisine and it can be found in most Mediterranean dishes in some form.
Traditional Italian meals deliver protein largely through fish and seafood. Fish such as tuna or salmon are rich with omega-3-fatty acids, which are linked with reducing high blood pressure, preventing heart disease and stroke.
Meanwhile, other seafood such as shrimp and mussels provide essential B12 vitamins, are high in protein, and are relatively low in calorie and fat content.
Whether in sauce, salad, on bruschetta or any number of dishes, tomatoes are one of the major ingredients in the entirety of Italian cuisine. They are a great source of vitamins A, C, K, potassium, the list goes on and on. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, a type of antioxidant that protects cells from being damaged, hence much research around it in preventing cancer.
Replace butter with extra virgin olive oil while cooking to lower bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. Instead of pouring heaps of ranch dressing onto your salad, try a few spritzes of olive oil with some cracked pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Olive oil has a ton of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, which are a healthy alternative to trans fats you’ll find in other, processed foods.
What would your Italian meal be without a glass of red wine? Not only does it taste great, but it’s also heart healthy — in moderation, of course. Too much alcohol has very negative effects on the body, but a glass of red wine with dinner is filled with antioxidants and resveratrol, which help prevent damage to blood vessels.
Eating Italian cuisine has numerous physical health benefits, but it also positively affects mental health. In traditional Italian dinner culture, eating is a community event that promotes bringing families together to socialize and enjoy each other’s company. So book a table and bring your loved ones to La Buona Vita to enjoy a heart-healthy and social meal.