Live longer, live better: Why the Mediterranean diet just may be the most delicious meal plan yet

Olives and olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fresh fish and seafood, lean meats, cheese and yogurt and red wine. This may sound like the grocery list for a delicious dinner party (and you wouldn’t be wrong), but these foods are also the staple components of the Mediterranean diet.

A 2013 observational study conducted by Harvard University and published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that eating a diet consisting of foods that align with the Mediterranean diet, such as olives and olive oil, are associated with promoting longevity. Data from the study, which looked at female nurses of predominantly European ancestry, suggests that women who adhere to the Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres in their blood cells. Telomeres are DNA sequences that get short when cells divide, so their length is thought to be a measure of a cell’s aging. Because the study design precluded researchers from establishing a temporal association between dietary habits and telomere length; the single-measure test used prevented the estimation of associations between the Mediterranean diet and telomere attrition rate in addition to the telomere dynamics possibly differing among other ethnicities.

California Ripe Olives, a delicious part of the Mediterranean diet

Olives, such as California Ripe Olives, are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and are as good for you as they taste. Their unique flavor, texture and color make them one of the most versatile ingredients in the pantry, and make a perfect addition to a variety of dishes from appetizers to entrees.

California Ripe Olives are picked and canned at their peak, making them a delicious way to get a variety of nutrients such as vitamin A (60 IU per serving), vitamin E (.25mg per serving), iron (.49mg per serving) and fiber (.5 grams per serving). Olives, much like olive oil, contain monounsaturated fat – the good fat – which is associated with increased longevity, decreased risk of heart disease, reduced risk of chronic disease, lower blood pressure, and improved brain function.  

Enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean with an al fresco California-grown Mediterranean feast

As you’re looking for unique ways to entertain this summer consider hosting a Mediterranean feast, California style!

Here are a few tips to put together a delicious Mediterranean-inspired spread that everyone will love, whether or not they follow the Mediterranean diet.

*Keep it rustic, yet elegant by serving dishes on wooden boards and serving platters family-style. Select earth-toned linens and decorate the table food like lemons, rosemary and other whole fruits and vegetables for a casual and culinary-focused look.

*Build your meal around the freshest ingredients you can find. Look for fresh in-season fruits like other California crops such as figs, grapes, squash and other fruits and vegetables.

*Create a Mediterranean-inspired/California Grown cheese board with an array of cheeses, nuts and olives. For a simple Mediterranean-twist on marinated olives, combine black ripe olives with olive oil, lemon zest and herbs.

*Pair freshly grilled fish with a simple tapenade made with black ripe olives, olive oil, garlic and roasted red bell peppers for savory Mediterranean flair.

For more nutrition information about California Ripe Olives, the Mediterranean diet and tasty olive ideas, visit www.CalOlive.org.


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