From ancient Greece, the region's food has been known for its health benefits and longevity. Prior to the arrival of ingredients from the New World, the secret was the emphasis on intense flavors, such as garlic and onion, prescribed by Galen of Pergamon and Hippocrates.
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A study, published in the scientific journal Journal of Ethnopharmacology, reveals that the so-called Mediterranean Diet was already effective before the great navigations, which brought to Europe ingredients hitherto unknown, such as citrus and tomatoes.
To count on the power of nutrients and their effect on health, Greek doctors and philosophers were keen to prescribe the consumption of foods with a strong taste.
Hundreds of years before Christ, and also in the first century of the modern age, elders and thinkers saw food as key to balancing the health of the human body. Even date from this time the first cookbooks.
Ancestral physicians, such as Pergamon Galen (AD 129 to 199), emphasized culinary methods by employing simple ingredients to enrich the taste of meals. Pepper, ginger and cinnamon were among their recommended seasonings. The practice continues in the region to this day.
Galen prescribed to his patients dishes full of onions and garlic to adjust the "moods" of the body. The “humor theory” sought to balance the four fluids that were thought to influence people's overall health (blood, lymph, black bile, and yellow bile).
Image of the Greek physician Galen of Pergamon
For Galen, if the person had moods that were not flowing, lymph in particular would need to eat more onions and garlic. This reasoning anticipated the need to control cholesterol, for example. The doctor also had restrictions on the consumption of milk and bread due to lactose and gluten, even without knowing the existence of these substances.
Nutrition was considered the third medical art, along with pharmacology and surgery. Among philosophers, Plato (428 to 348 BC) wrote about the importance of food in health. And Hippocrates (460 to 370 BC) coined the famous phrase "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food."
According to Professor John Wilkins, expert in Greek culture and history at the University of Exeter (England), it is thanks to these pioneers that the Mediterranean Diet, with few improvements, is now considered the healthiest of all.
Not to mention ingredients that later came from Asia and the Americas, such as lemons, oranges and tomatoes.
Faced with revelations such as this, we see the quality of this historic menu reinforced.
In the region, hunting has always been rare. Therefore, since ancient times, meat consumption in the region has been reduced. Without the ubiquity of processed food, cereals, fruits and vegetables grown or harvested in the forest (pancs), seafood, spices and olive oil are part of the local diet in modern times.
It was this feeding of the thinkers, as well as the warriors, such as those portrayed in the 300th movie, that told how few healthy, organized, and above all healthy men could contain thousands of Persian soldiers in the well-known Battle of Thermopylae.