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Stephanie D. Murillo
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Is Italian Food Good For You?

There is no doubt that Italian food is one of the most popular foods across the globe. Like Chinese and Japanese, Italian cuisine has become more prominent for its regional diversity and flavors. Today, a large number of people love to eat authentic Italian cuisine. In many western countries, people prefer to have at least one Italian dish among many, such as pasta and pizza etc. In fact, some people travel for miles just to dine in an authentic Italian restaurant. I’ve already discussed Chinese food, today I’m going to share something about Italian food.

The first question is — Is Italian Food Healthy or Unhealthy?

Italian Spaghetti
Image credit by kitchenplatter

So, the good news is that Italian food is an incredibly healthy diet for you. If you eat it in moderation, it is completely beneficial for your health. Authentic Italian cuisine is characterized by its healthy ingredients. Fresh veggies, olive oil, beans, greens, tomatoes, and garlic are generally used in most of the traditional Italian dishes. These key ingredients are an excellent source of nutrients that can fend off health risks.

Italian cuisine has been loved from the Romanian period. Though the Italian culinary style belongs to different regions of Italy, but it is widely adopted in the world.

A 2008 study reveals that Italian death rate is less than other British countries. As well, they have a less risk of cancer and heart problems. According to a study, about one quarter British adults are overweight compared to just 8% of Italians. The main reason of healthier and longer life of Italians is the consumption of an Italian Mediterranean diet.

How Is Italian Food Healthy?

Surely, Italian food is famous for its quality and its authentic ingredients. The Italian cooking style not only adds divine tastes but also offers several health benefits. But now the question is what do Italian foods consist of?

Italian culinary style adopts the Mediterranean pattern of eating. It includes simple and natural ingredients, like garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, whole grains and dark leafy greens. These healthy ingredients play a vital role in making it one of the world’s healthiest diets.

Olive Oil

Italians mostly use olive oil for making their favorite dishes. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat that is healthful for you. By substituting butter with olive oil, you can cut back on saturated fat. It will boost your good (HDL) cholesterol and lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol level. In addition, you can also use extra-virgin olive oil to prevent heart problems. So, try eating like an Italian and enjoy green salads with a season of extra-virgin olive oil.

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Garlic

Garlic is a magical ingredient as it has both antibiotic and antifungal attributes. Several studies show that garlic boasts anticancer characteristics. It may lower the risks of throat, colon, breast, stomach and skin cancers. It also benefits your heart as it can prevent clotting. Do you know the secret to all these health benefits of garlic? The secret is Sulfides that are released when the garlic is chopped and left to sit aside for about 10-15 minutes before cooking or eating.

garlic

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of Vitamin A & C, potassium, folate and lycopene (a heart –protective nutrient). All these minerals and antioxidants offer many nutritional benefits. They can prevent some common types of cancers. So, prefer to use ripe tomatoes whether you want to serve fresh greens or to make an Italian red sauce.

Tomatoes

Whole Grains

Unrefined grains, such as whole-wheat pasta, barley, whole grain bread and whole wheat couscous also come in the Mediterranean diets. Whole grains contain fiber, Vitamin E, magnesium, and other antioxidant phytochemicals. These nutrients may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Therefore, you should add Italian cereals to your diet.

whole grains bread

Seafood

Seafood is a well-known source of staple protein in Italian diets. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna give heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids to your body. Whereas, lean seafood including shrimp, mussels, sea bass and squid supply ample protein, selenium, and niacin to your body. So, you should eat seafood or fish at least twice a week.

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Dark Leafy Greens

Italians appreciate the usage of dark leafy vegetables in their meals. They often use broccoli rabe with bold ingredients, such as sausage, hot pepper, and anchovy. Dark leafy greens are considered the perfect nutritional superstars. They offer plenty of vitamins A, C & K, heart-healthy fiber and cancer-fighting antioxidants. So, include a generous portion of rich dark leafy greens to your daily diet.

leafy greens

Nuts

There are countless nut trees found in Italy, especially olive trees. Nuts are typically served as snacks, seasoned on salads and ground into sauces. They are full of heart-friendly monounsaturated fat, protein, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and folate. Therefore, they may help in maintaining the healthy blood vessels. Try topping your Italian salad with chopped nuts.

peanuts

Beans

Beans are an essential and healthy ingredient often found in Italian food. Get your staple protein from beans and other legumes such as chickpeas and lentils. Beans are also loaded with calcium, zinc, iron and folate. So, by adding beans to your diet, you can also enjoy some other healthful nutrients. They also provide large doses of fiber both soluble and insoluble that can manage diabetes. Moreover, they can reduce heart disease risk and also prevent colon cancer. Therefore, add your favorite beans and legumes to pizza, pasta or soup.

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beans

Red Wine

Italian dinner is never complete without a glass of wine. However, most of the Italian people prefer to choose a red wine that is healthy for human health. Enjoying red wine in moderation during meals can raise good (HDL) cholesterol. This practice may also help in regulating your blood sugar and also support in food digestion with nutrients absorption.

red wine

What Are The Health Benefits of Italian Food?

Italian diet is full of healthful benefits due to its above-mentioned healthy ingredients. A study finds that Italian Mediterranean diet offers certain nutrients that may help in the reduction of the risks linked with some chronic diseases. Here are some health benefits of Italian food that you can enjoy:

Weight Management 

Do you want to lose your weight? Well, Italian diet is perfect for you. Typically, it consists of a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits and vegetables. These foods are rich in nutrient value and low in fat and calories. They are loaded with many nutrients, such as vitamin A and iron. So, they may help in maintaining a healthy weight. heart-665177_640

Heart Health 

The staples of Italian foods, such as olive oil and seafood have healthy fats. Olive oil and fresh fatty fish, like tuna, sardines and salmon are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are associated with the prevention of coronary heart disease and reduction in high blood pressure.

Antioxidant Power

Italian Mediterranean food also offers powerful antioxidants that are essential for healthy life. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains are commonly used in the preparation of authentic Italian cuisines, as main ingredients. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E, lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, and selenium. By eating foods rich in antioxidants, you can protect your body from free radicals (unstable molecules that trigger cell damage). They may also reduce the risks of cancer and other chronic diseases.

 

Fiber Benefits

Dietary fiber is ample in authentic Italian dishes and offers some significant health benefits. Fiber is a kind of carbohydrate usually found in plant foods. It not only helps you to drop your blood cholesterol levels but also to maintain stable blood sugar levels. So, add fiber-rich foods to your diet and ensure several health benefits.

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Is Italian Food Considered Mediterranean?

Yes, absolutely. Italian diet can be considered a Mediterranean diet. Mediterranean cuisines are usually made from fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans. They are a rich source of nutrients and vitamins that are indispensable for people of all ages. Some different studies show that obesity is rare in many Mediterranean countries, like Italy despite the consumption of pasta and other yummy dishes. The secret is Mediterranean-style diet. It provides many health benefits, from reducing the risk of depression, cancer and heart attack & stroke, to having a longer life span.

However, American-Italian food can be unhealthy for you. These foods are typically made with cheese, wine and creamy sauces, which can simply turn your meal into something unhealthy.

Mediterranean diet

Is Italian Food Safe during Pregnancy?

Yes, Italian foods are completely safe to eat during pregnancy if they are made from healthy and premium quality ingredients. However, it is important to adopt some precautions to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Here are some tips that you should keep in mind when you are eating Italian during pregnancy.

  • Avoid consuming soft cheeses.
  • Don’t eat any type of pate.
  • Stop the intake of raw or undercooked seafood or fish.
  • Avoid eating partially cooked bread, normally used in Italian pizzas and sandwiches.
  • Eliminate the hot and spicy Italian sauces from your diet.
  • Cut down the wine, alcohol, sodas and other unhealthy drinks.

What Healthy Italian Cuisines are Popular? Pizza

There are no specific Italian cuisines that are popular all over Italy or in many other countries. Italian foods are strongly influenced by native history and traditions. However, some famous Italian dishes are there that have earned national and international fame. Have a look at them!

  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Risotto
    Panzanella
    Italian bread salad
  • Minestrone (veggies and beans soup)
  • Zuppa di Pesce (Italian Fish Soup)
  • Fish and Meat Dishes
  • Ossobuco
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Tiramisu
  • Panzanella

Conclusion:

Italian food is definitely healthy for everyone as they are typically prepared from healthy ingredients. All these nutritious ingredients make the Italian cuisines everyone’s favorite. Italian cuisines not only delight your taste buds but also offer numerous health benefits. However, it is essential to follow some precautions when you cook or eat Italian food. Always choose authentic Italian cuisines and stay healthy and longer.

Italian food
Image Credit by italianfoodelpaso

What is your favorite Italian food? Share it with us.

Stephaine D. Murillo is a Dubai-based American professional nutritionist who tells the secrets of a healthy and longer life. She is ambitious to find the significant benefits of a nutritional and balanced diet. She guides food lovers about the health benefits and drawbacks of vegetables, fruits and other types of food. She loves to share information about food & health through Papaorder Blog. So, subscribe Papaorder blog to get her health & food tips.

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Papaorder Blog explores the food culture of various nations while the main focus is on Arabic culinary style and culture.

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One thought on “Is Italian Food Good For You?”

  1. I found out that for me to lose the baby fat that i gained after pregnancy was a real struggle that was until i came across a weight loss program called the 3 week diet it truly helped me drop all of the body i had gained while pregnant.

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