Food foundation

Sardines: the cornerstone of Mediterranean cuisine

A humble fish that feeds your brain. Few diets or lifestyle meal choices can claim the benefits that the Mediterranean diet offers:the promotion of longevity and the reduced risk of cognitive decline, diabetes and some type of cancers.

When you mention the Mediterranean diet, people often think of the typical Italian meals such as pizza and pasta.However, the reality is that the Mediterranean diet is more of a plant based diet, where fruits, vegetables, hearty grains and beans are preferable, followed by seafood, a bit of dairy and red wine, with red meats only on special occasions.

This diet refers to the way people of Southern Italy, Greece and Crete used to eat (and I’m sure some still do) in 1960. A study conducted at the Mayo Foundation after World War II on 13,000 middle-aged men from different countries such as the US, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, and Finland suggested that the Mediterranean men were in the best cardiovascular conditions.Apart from daily exercise, their fresh home grown and cooked delicious meals were high in macronutrients and low in sugar and unhealthy fats. In particular two core ingredients of the Mediterranean diet are beneficial for the brain and most likely responsible for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 30 million people worldwide: olive oil and sardines. A component of this monounsaturated fat has the ability to clear the brain from the accumulation of a protein, responsible for this condition.

Also, this shy fish that is always left in a hidden corner at fish markets, contain precious fatty acids, that build the membranes of the brain, and phospholipids, which are neurotransmitter precursors and therefore support mental clarity, focus and memory. So, next time you are having friends and family at your BBQ add a few sardines to your table!


From the cookbook “Sharing Puglia”by Luca Lorusso&Vivienne Polak


This tasty marinated fish has Middle Eastern roots and is similar to the more familiar  escabeche. This ancient way of preserving food, using vinegar and breadcrumbs, is not only  clever, but also practical. Once the fish is layered in a container, it will last in the refrigerator  for months. You can make this using any small fish such as sardines or whitebait. It makes a  great appetizer accompanied by a glass of rosato from San Severo.




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