The Greek countryside can provide a plethora of foods and herbs, which have been used since ancient times and are proven to boost a healthy diet and to better defend our immune system.
The Mediterranean diet is universally acknowledged to be one of the healthiest diets in the world and Greece’s climate provides the perfect environment for the growth of so-called super-foods that have been known for centuries and used not only in cooking but in medicine as well, for their healing properties.
Extra virgin olive oil
The first and most important of all the Greek superfoods is the “Green Gold” of Greece. Extra virgin olive oil has extremely potent antioxidant properties and protects against a range of heart diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, and it is believed to help in the fight 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.
Besides having a delicious taste and rich texture, both hard to find in other honey varieties, thyme honey has incredible antimicrobial qualities while some believe it also prevents cancer. When buying thyme 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 which function as antioxidants. It also has alkaline effects on body pH and some cultures consider carob an aphrodisiac.
Mastic from Chios
Chios, one of the North Aegean Greek islands, is the exclusive home to the famous mastic, a type of aromatic resin collected from the Mastic tree, and which is used in many dishes and food products. It is thought to lower cholesterol levels while preventing stomach ulcers and Crohn’s disease. It is believed that it also helps protect us from different types of cancer.
Dittany of Crete
The myth teaches us that the goddess Aphrodite managed to heal a fatal injury to her son Aeneas by grabbing some dittany; but not just any dittany, but the variety that only grows on Crete.
Medical research has indeed proven that this special variety of dittany has great antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. In fact, dittany is the main ingredient of Cretan mountain tea, known to be the folk cure for virtually anything, from cold and cough to gastrointestinal disorders and skin conditions.
Dried figs from Evia
With an indisputably high nutritional value, dried figs are also rich in natural fiber and help in weight control because 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 nervous system, for metabolism and for bone health.
Corinthian raisins, also known Zante currants or Corinth raisins, sometimes simply referred to as currants, are dried berries of the small, seedless Black Corinth grape (Vitis vinifera).
These sweet, dried grapes can be consumed alone or in different recipes. These raisins not only protect against high blood pressure; they also add a sweet touch to the diet of diabetic patients without increasing their blood sugar levels.
Marjoram (Origanum Majorana) is a perennial herb that has been cultivated since ancient times. Marjoram has an array of therapeutic properties, and is a natural tranquilizer as well.
The steam produced by the hot infusion of this herb is very helpful for the respiratory system, and its essential oil can reduce dental pain. Such a useful plant is an integral part of Greek cuisine. In dishes, it pairs well with meat, salads, cheese, and bread.
Achillea, or Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) is a plant that has a variety of beneficial effects on health disorders. It is known for its detoxification properties if drunk as a hot tea infusion after one has imbibed too much. Furthermore, yarrow is a natural remedy for lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation.
Yarrow is also believed to aid against any kind of internal bleeding.
Also known as Horta, wild greens are one of the most important ingredients of a diet that originally included many such vegetables, combined with a generous drizzle of olive oil and lemon.
Wild greens such as blitha, stamnagathi, and dandelion, among others, are extremely high in antioxidants, and with an abundant quantity of fiber, which aids greatly in the digestion process.