The popularity of superfoods is growing at a fast pace, and Greek cuisine is full of them. This is simply because these mostly natural foods are packed with high levels of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals while they also provide countless benefits that help you live a longer and healthier life.
Contrary to popular belief, not all of these popular superfoods are bizarre, hard to find or from exotic or remote countries.
Some of them have been known and used since ancient times, and many of them come from Greece, which is home to one of the healthiest diets in the world: the Mediterranean diet.
So, why not include at least some of these Greek superfoods in your everyday diet? You will feel healthier in the blink of an eye!
Extra virgin olive oil
The first and most important of all of the Greek superfoods is the “green gold” of Greece.
Extra virgin olive oil has extremely powerful antioxidant properties and protects against a range of heart disease, and is said to prevents heart attacks and strokes; some researchers say it is of aid even against breast and rectal cancer.
Moreover, olive oil eliminates Helicobacter pylori, the main cause of stomach ulcers. The leaves from the olive tree are also considered a superfood since the extract helps to reduce blood pressure and sugar levels in the blood. They can be dried and steeped for a delicious natural tea.
Honey – a delectable Greek superfood
Besides a delicious taste and rich texture, both hard to find in honeys outside of Greece, Greek honey, a sweet superfood, has incredible antimicrobial qualities while some researchers believe it also may prevent cancer.
When buying honey, go for a bright orange color, which means that the concentration of antioxidant agents will be higher and, therefore, more effective.
Carob is the fruit of the carob tree, rich in a number of vitamins and minerals, and particularly high in calcium. It’s also a source of protein and fiber.
Carob has always been considered a digestive while it also contains polyphenols that function as antioxidants.
It also has alkaline effects on body pH and certain cultures consider carob an aphrodisiac.
Mastic from Chios
Chios, one of the North Aegean Greek islands, is the exclusive home to the famous product mastic, a sort of aromatic resin collected from the Mastic tree.
Mastic is prized all over the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Middle East for its distinct taste, and it is frequently used in sweets and baking.
However, mastic is also an important aid to reduce high cholesterol levels, and testing has shown that it could prevent a variety of digestive issues, such as stomach ulcers and Crohn’s disease.
Dittany of Crete: a healing Greek superfood
A Greek myth says us that goddess Aphrodite managed to heal her son Aeneas’s deadly injury by grabbing some dittany — but not just any kind of the herb, the variety that only grows on Crete.
Medical research has proved that this special type of dittany has great antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
In fact, dittany is the main ingredient of the Cretan mountain tea, known to reduce symptoms of many ailments, from colds and coughs to gastrointestinal disorders and skin conditions.
Figs from Evia
With an indisputable high nutritional value, dried figs are rich in natural fiber and help in weight control as they enhance the feeling of satiety.
Figs also help regulate blood pressure and improve ligament health thanks to their high potassium content.
They are also rich in magnesium, important for a healthy function of the nervous system, for metabolism and for bone health.
Greek yogurt contains valuable bacteria that has a positive effect on the entire digestive tract.
For instance, it contains Lactobacillus, which, according to different studies, helps fight cancer and digestive upsets.
Greek yogurt also enhances digestion while providing all the nutrients of milk (in fact, yogurt contains protein, carbohydrates, fats, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins).
Corinthian raisins, also known Zante currants or Corinth raisins, also called just currants, are dried berries of the small, seedless Black Corinth (Vitis vinifera) grape.
These sweet, dried grapes can be consumed alone or used in many different recipes.
These raisins protect against high blood pressure and they also add a sweet touch to the diet of diabetic patients without increasing their blood sugar levels.
Also known as horta, wild greens are one of the most important ingredients of the Greek diet, which originally included a great deal of these vegetables, combined with a generous drizzle of olive oil and lemon.
Wild greens such as blitha, stamnagathi, and dandelion, among others, are high in antioxidants, and with an abundant quantity of fiber, a great aid in the digestion process.
Yes, great news! Greek coffee is another superfood! Recent studies conducted in the small Greek island of Ikaria (known all over the world for the longevity of its inhabitants) may have found that the high longevity rate of Ikarians is linked to the coffee brewed on the island.
As an example, Ikarians over 65 years of age who drink the local brew had better endothelial function than those drinking different types of coffee, a benefit even for those affected by high blood pressure.
Greek coffee, in short, is a brew primarily from Arabica beans, rich in antioxidants which benefit the vascular function — as opposed to filtered coffee.
Greek coffee is thicker as well and offers a subtle and healthier intake of caffeine.