Besides being close in location, the Middle East and Mediterranean also share similar cuisines which are known to be some of the healthiest in the world. According to livestrong.com, the Middle Eastern diet falls into a larger category of “Mediterranean diet,” and has been influenced by countries throughout Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean region, making the diet what it is today.
Key Elements of the Middle Eastern Diet
When making dishes in the Middle East, spices play an important role in adding rich flavor without adding too much sodium as salt does. Common spices used in the Middle Eastern diet include garlic, cinnamon, oregano, parsley, leek, pepper and dill. The seasonings are often added to various dishes to create distinct tastes.
Fruits and Vegetables
Rather than eating sugary candies or caloric cakes as a sweet, Middle Easterners often consume fruit for dessert. Not only does fruit satisfy a sweet craving, but it leaves individuals feeling fueled and fuller longer due to its fiber content. Typical fruits in the Middle Eastern diet include cherries, apricots, pomegranates, dates, watermelon and mangos. The fruits are also incorporated in main dishes in various salads or as sauces. Vegetables are very common in the Middle Eastern diet. The primary vegetable used is the eggplant, but livestrong.com says other common vegetables include onion, spinach, cucumber, okra, cauliflower, cabbage and potatoes. Like fruits, vegetables can also be added to other meals as salads, side dishes or stuffed with meats, rice or couscous. According to livestrong.com, the Middle Eastern diet features about two or three servings of both fruits and vegetables daily.
Healthy grains are eaten throughout the day in the Middle Eastern diet. Those who follow a Middle Eastern diet eat about six to eleven servings of grain each day, says livestrong.com. Studies have proved that whole grains can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Whole grains also keep the human body fuller for a longer amount of time which helps individuals control overeating.