As much as we all like to treat ourselves when on holiday, more often than not it's the case that we use our time away to actually eat healthily, detox and rejuvenate.
Due to busy schedules and lack of sleep in our day-to-day lives, taking a well-earned holiday is now the perfect opportunity to eat properly, exercise and catch up on those z's. Recently a whopping 55% of people in the UK revealed that time spent away from their usual work and home life was the time when they finally focused on health and fitness, with a quarter admitting that on holiday is the only time they stick to a strict health regime.
If you're heading off on your hols this summer and are hoping to revive yourself with much-needed vitamins and minerals, there are plenty of ways to do so without missing out on the good stuff, however.
Tuck into some of Europe's finest, freshest ingredients and you'll reap as much in taste as you will in health benefits. Just be sure to save room for a little bit of ice cream too...
Packed with vitamins A, C and K, the health benefits of tomatoes are vast. Filled with potassium too, the shiny red beauties can help fend off cancers, aid diabetes, improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, provide antioxidants and reduce high blood pressure. Very handily, tomatoes are also great to apply (fresh, sliced open) to sunburn as they reduce inflammation of the skin. If you're in Greece or in southern parts of Italy, where some of world's best tomatoes are grown, not only will the fruits be fresh, cheap and plentiful, they’ll also be delectable and packed with natural goodness.
Sure, these oily fish aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re visiting a seaside location where sardines are often catch of the day, do try them at least once. Served most often in vinegar or olive oil in most Mediterranean countries, sardines are a very reliable source of iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, A, D, E and K. Their healthy oil is also great for the skin, encouraging cells to regenerate quicker, which will help keep your skin looking youthful and glowing.
Drunk in moderation of course, a glass of red wine on your holidays can provide you with key nutrients for keeping heart disease and stroke-causing blood clots at bay. ‘How?’ you wonder. The tannins in red wine (which colour the wine red) contain procyanidins, which fight against heart disease, as well as a natural phenol known as resveratrol, which helps to remove chemicals in the blood that cause clots.
There’s also been research conducted suggesting that red wine can help you lose weight due to an ingredient which slows the growth of fat cells. While we’re not entirely convinced on that point, we are sure that when visiting France or Italy a glass of warm, dark vino is definitely a good thing, however you look at it.
Heavily referenced in the ‘Mediterranean Diet’, which is rated as one of the best in the world, olive oil’s health benefits are incredibly vast. Unlike sunflower and other cooking oils, the majority of the fat (around 75%) in olive oil is oleic acid. This acid has incredible benefits to the body. As a result, olive oil helps to boost blood circulation, prevent diabetes, strengthen your immune system and fight cancers too. The powerful oil also helps keep skin young-looking by adding a protective coating (yes, even without lathering yourself in it!), which lessens the effects of sun damage and ageing. In countries such as Greece where extra virgin olive oil is pressed locally, be liberal with the silky stuff – pour it on salads, fresh tomatoes, on fish and mop it up with crusty bread.
Real Greek yoghurt
Sadly it’s very hard to find authentic Greek yoghurt in the UK. Although all the regular supermarkets sell ‘Greek-style’ versions, it’s just not the same. The key to true Grecian yoghurt is its straining process. In Greece, the yoghurt is put through many straining processes making it not only silky and whipped-like but also higher in protein than other yoghurt and lower in carbohydrates and sugars. This is because much of the product’s liquid whey and lactose is removed through the vigorous straining. If you’re lucky enough to be in Greece, start the day with local yogurt and fresh fruit. This reduced carb, reduced sodium, probiotic-filled breakfast will keep you full until lunchtime.
A dinnertime favourite in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Spain and Portugal, chickpeas are a fantastic, fat-free source of protein and fibre. Found in hearty tagines, used as texture-giving salad toppings or served as an accompaniment to fish or meat, the little beige bean (which also come in green, red and black, by the way) are thought to help with the effects of diabetes, improve bone health, lower cholesterol, improve digestion and bowel regularity, and also help with weight loss – their high protein content keeps you fuller for longer thus reducing calorie consumption. So, after those facts, we suggest you tuck into a tasty plate of chickpea stew whilst you’re away.