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The Iberian Table is based on hundreds of studies, including the recent game-changing Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (Prevention with Mediterranean Diet [PREDIMED]), that shed light on which type of extra-virgin olive oil to select to help reverse heart disease, how much of the oil we should consume to reduce invasive breast cancer up to 68%, and how we should cook with it to empower its healing benefits.

1. Base your diet on plant foods. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and grains should be eaten most of the time.

Rice and grains provide carbohydrates for energy. Whole grains are preferred – they are a source of fiber, magnesium and phosphorous. Noodles and rice, should be prepared with a sofrito base. Beans and nuts contain the immune –enhancer zinc, so enjoy these foods often. Slightly roasted nuts (which preserves healthy fats) are in all sorts of recipes in Spain. Processed meats, such as ham are to be eaten occasionally, and in negligible amounts such as a small part of a sandwich. Completely avoid fast food, sugary foods and beverages. Red meat should be eaten rarely and only in small amounts – such as an ingredient in a vegetable-based stew. Begin stews and other Spanish style dishes with a sofrito of slow cooked garlic, onions (or leeks) prepared with tomato in EVOO, for this flavor enhancer is rich in potent antioxidants. Prepare at least 3 sofrito-based dishes per week. Eat vegetables with both lunch and dinner, with at least one serving raw. Avoid sugary deserts; select fresh fruit instead. Don’t forget citrus fruits – oranges and tangerines are rich in virus bashing vitamin C. Remember, local fruit and vegetables contain more flavor and fragrance.

2. Extra virgin olive oil should be your main source of fat.

Consume four to six tablespoons of EVOO daily. When thyme (the major Spanish culinary herb) is combined with EVOO, a recent human study reported that it provides protection against oxidative DNA damage, so when you cook with this super duo, you are helping to shield your body against all kinds of damage. Similarly, with sofrito, EVOO empowers the cancer-preventative lycopene in the tomato to be even more protective. Use EVOO to prepare sofrito, sauté vegetables, drizzle over salads, prepare vinagretas and anoint sandwiches. A little EVOO drizzled over cooked foods right before serving benefits your health and adds fragrance and flavor to your dishes. Eat olives frequently; like EVOO, olives are abundant in protective polyphenols.

3. At least 3 servings of oily fish (omega-3 rich fish) should be eaten weekly.

Don’t overlook seafood, especially clams and mussels, which are a rich source of immune-enhancing zinc which can help fight viruses. Seafood and fish are excellent sources of protein.

4.Fermented dairy, meaning yogurt and kefir can be enjoyed every day.

Dairy contains healthy fats, and yogurt and kefir contain live organisms that improve the balance of our intestinal microflora which contribute to a long life.

5. Eggs, rich in quality proteins, fat, many vitamins and minerals make a complete food, and yolks are abundant in zinc, so don’t deprive yourself.

Eating eggs several times a week offers a great alternative to meat.

6. Don’t underestimate the power of Spanish flavor: cook with thyme, pimentón, garlic, onions, and sofrito frequently.

This Spanish flavor story provides satisfaction and great benefits to our health, while reducing the need for salt. Maintaining a vibrant kidney system confirmed by researchers in 2020, helps to eliminate toxins related to viruses, even Covid-19. When one eats mostly restaurant food, we can’t control salt-intake. Since a high sodium diet weakens the kidneys, this sets the stage for disease. Regarding thyme, studies show when thyme is cooked in EVOO, which kick starts many recipes in Spain, the duo offers oxidative protection to DNA.

7. At least eight glasses of water should be drunk every day.

8. Red wine can be enjoyed in moderation: 1 drink a day, for women, 2 drinks a day for men.

9. Walk, exercise, garden, use your bike, do housework, etc.

Exercise, as crucial as a good diet, helps us maintain a healthy weight which is tied to longevity. In 2020, the Harvard School of Public Health reported that 57% people in a study found it easier to remain on the Mediterranean Diet than the Keto. Researchers also reported better health was achieved with those who followed the Mediterranean Diet over the Keto. Even a negligible amount of weight loss benefits health.

10. Immerse yourself in nature, and fresh air.

An ongoing study, Healthy Forests for A Healthy Society, conducted at The University of Barcelona, is finding that regular exposure to nature helps strengthen immunity.

11. Smaller portions, central to the Spanish way eating is much easier on the body.

In many cases, people on medication to control (for example) hypertension who move from the USA to the European Union notice reduce portion sizes, as practiced in Europe and many have told me they do without their medication.

12. Sleep and siestas are immune enhancing.

Make nightly sleep paramount. And if you want, nap. Spain has it right, with the tradition of siesta.

More than 100 Easy-to-follow Regional Recipes & interviews with Michellin-starred Chefs

With a fresh voice, Keuneke pays homage to the cooking of the famed northern region, which boasts nine of the 11 restaurants in Spain to earn 3 stars in the 2018 Michelin Guide.

The author examines the development of this distinguished gastronomic movement, which impacted not only Spain, but the world.