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The Skinny on Spain

Feb 01, 2014 04:15PM

The Skinny on Spain By Kristin Close


Most Spanish people I see are not overweight. (A disclaimer: I see only city people, and they are usually skinnier because of the walking and the peer pressure.) However, I have some ideas about why the Spanish are slim. 1.    They eat bread and coffee for breakfast. 2.    They keep eating small things all day. 3.    They take siestas. 4.    The bus stops are far apart. 5.    Walking is part of the culture. 6.    Stores are closed on Sundays. 7.    They don’t eat on buses, trains or while walking around town. 8.    Moderate alcohol is tradition. 9.    The Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional diet inspired by the dietary patterns of Greece and Italy. This diet includes high consumption of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, fish, a moderate consumption of dairy and a low consumption of meat products. The focus of the Mediterranean diet is not to limit the consumption of  fat, but in choosing more healthy types of fat. It discourages saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), which contribute to heart disease. It is beneficial for being low in saturated fat and high in fiber and monounsaturated fat. Olive oil is considered one of the main characteristics of the Mediterranean diet. It contains a high level of monounsaturated fat (a type of fat that can help lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels when used, instead of trans fat or saturated fat), oleic acid. It is linked to a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. In addition, antioxidants in olive oil improves cholesterol. You never have to eat Cheerios again. The inclusion of red wine is considered a contributing factor to health since it contains antioxidants - I suggest Rioja. The Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to eat. It reflects a way of eating that is traditional in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, but it is not necessary to travel any further than your local supermarket to discover it’s delicious flavors and fresh food. It is easy to bring the remarkable health benefits and affordable Mediterranean-style eating to your cabinets in the kitchen, your refrigerator, your counter tops, stove, oven and your table daily. Include fruits and vegetables in your meals, switch to whole grain cereals and bread. Fruit salads are a wonderful way to eat a variety of healthy fruit. Pears and seeds are good sources of fiber, protein and healthy fats. Keep almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts on-hand for a quick snack. Try olive oil as a substitute for butter. Lightly drizzle olive oil over vegetables and after cooking pasta, add olive oil. Eat fish at least twice a week. Fresh water tuna, salmon, trout, and herring are healthy choices. When choosing red meat, make sure that it is lean. Avoid sausage, bacon and other processed meats that are high fat content. Finally, limit high-fat dairy products, such as whole milk or 2% milk, cheese and ice cream. So now you’re thinking: “Wow! Kristin must be wasting away!” No. (Quite the opposite.) I’m just taking notes.