Healthy Italian Eating Habits to Try

 Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Italy is one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s also home to well-loved recipes, age-old cooking techniques and of course, clean eating. The Italians strongly advocate clean, healthy eating and this could be the reason why the country has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

Longevity is attributed to different factors and one of them is eating fresh, healthy whole foods. Because the Italians pride themselves for their traditional ways of cooking, they do not use processed foods, synthetic flavorings or preservatives. Only the freshest, high-quality ingredients will do. Paired with age-old cooking techniques, the Italians have a knack for bringing out the natural flavors in food, adding dimension to classic dishes. But beyond good food, how come Italians have such long lifespan? The answer lies in these simple but effective eating habits:

High-Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a national obsession in Italy. Everything from dips to classic favorites is saturated with this healthy oil. Extra virgin olive oil is a critical part of the Italian diet and most Italians do not consider a certain dish authentic unless it’s flavored with this oil.

Of course, high-quality extra virgin olive oil is not cheap. The best kinds of oil are those with almost cloudy appearance. This is a sign that the olive fruits were cold-pressed and not processed in any way. Extra virgin olive oil has to be stored in a dark bottle to retain its nutrient content. Store it in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight to lengthen its shelf life! Use this oil to give salads a green, refreshing taste or to add deeper flavors to marinades and stews.

Eat Fresh Wholefoods

While there’s nothing wrong with eating grilled, broiled or steamed veggies, Italians prefer eating fresh whole foods. And this habit could be key to their longevity! Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and cooking or improper storage could neutralize the potency of these nutrients. Eating whole foods raw is the best way to obtain all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Incorporate lots of fresh fruits and veggies as side dishes to your main meal. Italians love their raw greens so make sure to beef up your meals with fresh basil, cabbage, kale, tomatoes, and artichokes!

Eat Raw Garlic

Garlic is a potent source of anti-inflammatory, anti-bacteria, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. It helps lower blood pressure and keeps the heart healthy. Garlic is also packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants. It protects from chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease. That’s why the Italians love munching on raw garlic every day! Sure, munching 2 cloves of garlic might prove too much for some but the amazing health benefits you get from it makes up for it! If you’re not keen on chewing fresh garlic, try adding grated or finely chopped fresh garlic to your favorite dips and salads.

Avoid Processed Foods

Italians do not like synthetic preservatives of all types. They do not use unhealthy condiments to flavor their dishes nor do they use processed ingredients. Italians love working with fresh herbs, veggies, meats and fruits. They were practicing organic farming before organic became trendy in the west. Real Italian cooking is all about organic, fresh ingredients prepared meticulously to preserve their nutrients.

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