The kalamata olive diet is a version of the Mediterranean diet. Other names for the Mediterranean diet include the Prasouda Diet or the Greek Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets in the world. This is supported by health statistics which indicate that of the six countries with the lowest death rate from heart disease, four belong to Mediterranean countries. In the United States there are approximately 106 heart disease deaths per 100,000 population. In the United Kingdom that figure is 122 per 100,000 and in Australia it is 110 per 100,000. The average of those four Mediterranean countries is 57 deaths per 100,000. These statistics beg the question… What are they doing right?
What are Kalamata Olives?
Kalamata olives receive their name from the Kalamata region in Greece which is renowned for rich, flavorsome olives and olive oils. The city of Kalamata sits at the head of the Messinian Gulf with the famous city of Sparta to the north. They are sometimes called Greek olives and are a rich reddish purple color. When not used in production of olive oil they are generally pickled in either brine or vinaigrette. This pickling process gives them a dark brown or even black coloration. Kalamata olives contain anthocyanin (a pigment rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties).
Did you know that any fruit with a reddish or purplish color is high in antioxidants which play an important line in the body’s first line of defence against ‘free radicals’ which can cause cell mutations and lead to diseases like heart disease and cancer. In general, the darker the color, the more antioxidants they contain. So the more antioxidant rich food you consume the better and kalamata olives are an ideal source… they also taste delicious! Since Kalamata olives contain flavonoids, polyphenols and vitamin E, they help protect the body from these free radicals. They also support the immune system, improve heart health and reduce inflammation. Another advantage is that they are fiber rich.
Like with many things, they should be eaten in moderation since 15 grams of Kalamata olives (approximately 3-5 olives) contain 45 calories due to their high fat content. Brined varieties should also be consumed sparingly due to their high sodium content.
What is the Mediterranean Diet or Kalamata Olive Diet?
As you would expect, the diet involves eating plenty of kalamata olives in various forms; whole, tapenade (olive paste), in oils and dressings etc. The main focus of the Mediterranean diet is on eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, olives and olive oils, fish and seafood, cheese and yoghurt. Red meat consumption is limited to a few times per month.
Because of the relatively low consumption of dairy products and meat, the saturated fat content of the Mediterranean diet is much lower than that in the United States. It is also much higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil in fish and seafood along with being rich in Omega 3 fatty acids found primarily in fish and seafood.
It is interesting to note that in the Mediterranean diet pyramid, there is no category for fats and Olive oil is categorized with the fruit and vegetables and is included in most cooking. Most fruit and vegetables are eaten raw or only lightly cooked.
As with all healthy diets, an active lifestyle is recommended even if you just go for a 30 minute walk per day. Following a Mediterranean diet will create many desirable health benefits.
To see statistics related to heart disease death rates for 1998-2004 visit Heart disease statistics.