Italian cuisine is generally simple and full of healthy nutrients. The ingredients used are staples of Mediterranean food and are part of a balanced diet. When cooked and prepared in different ways, these ingredients combine to form the most favoured gastronomies of the world. From pizza to pasta, the ingredients mentioned below are go-to cooking essentials in a number of Italian dishes:
1. Olive oil
Olive oil is used in many Italian delicacies. Switching to olive oil instead of butter is healthy because it will cut down your intake of saturated fat and boost good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. Furthermore, extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants good for cardiovascular health. The only catch is that it is high in monounsaturated fat.
Tomatoes are high in Vitamin C and lycopene (heart-protective antioxidant) which prevents prostate cancer. Vitamin A, potassium and folate are other nutritional benefits of this ingredient. Whether you like your pasta in a red tomato sauce or in your fresh salad, tomatoes are great for your taste buds and your health.
An eggplant is rich in vitamins and minerals such as fibre, folate, potassium, manganese and other nutrients. It is either prepared in stews like the French ratatouille or deep fried like Parmigiana di Melanzane, an appetizing delicacy from Southern Italy.
Nuts are a staple in Italian cuisine. Whether you have it as a snack or ground them to make a sauce or sprinkle on salads, nuts are an essential ingredient. They are rich in magnesium and monosaturated fat, fibre, protein, calcium and other nutrients. In fact, Nutella, the most preferred chocolate spread is made of hazelnuts used in various Italian desserts.
An Italian dish is not possible without garlic for its flavour. It has both antibiotic and antifungal properties. What few people know is that it also has anticancer benefits which means it reduces the risk of throat, stomach, colon, skin and breast cancer.
6. Whole grains
This is another staple of Italian dishes. Whole grains are used to make whole grain bread or whole wheat pasta which are healthy and safeguard against diabetes, heart and other chronic diseases.
7. Leafy vegetables
Leafy vegetables such as broccoli, brassica, collard, kale, escarole and chard provide a lot of Vitamin A, C and K, heart-healthy fibre and cancer-fighting antioxidants. You can include these vegetables in pasta, pizza or salad.
In an Italian diet, seafood is the main protein. From different kinds of fish, squid, mussels, sea bass to shrimps, seafood dominates a huge part of this cuisine. They are also rich in fatty acids, niacin and selenium.
An Italian meal is incomplete without the addition of herbs such as basil, sage and rosemary. Though rosemary is known as the sister herb of sage, they are good for the nervous system and stomach. Basil fights depression, inflammation, diabetes, stress and other illnesses.
10. Dried oregano
The aroma of oregano is the highlight of Italian delicacies. It adds flavour to the food and also provides health benefits with its powerful antioxidants fighting diseases.
Mozzarella and Parmesan are two types of cheese used widely in Italian cuisine. They are rich in calcium, protein, Vitamin A and other nutrients. You can use grated cheese to dress a salad, in cooking pasta or over the pizza as a topping.
The above-listed ingredients are full of healthy nutrients that make Italian cuisine one of a kind. Filled with colours, flavours and cheese, Italian dishes are a must try wherever you go around the world. If you’re in Caledon, then don’t forget to visit Rimssie’s for a delicious Italian meal.