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Knowing more about a healthy Italian diet can improve your life – this week: Fruits and Vegetables, Tomatoes and Beans


Following on from the last health tips; ‘Olive oil’ and ‘Coffee’, produced by Susan Marshall Tomassini* back at the beginning of March and "Fibre" and "Red Wine" of March 23, here we offer another couple of suggestions.

As you might already be aware, if you have been reading the previous pieces on this subject, they are meant to give small useful bits of advice on how (and why) a more balanced Mediterranean diet can improve your health and your life.


I strongly believe that your Italian home can certainly be a great opportunity to enter into a very genuine/Mediterranean way of life, especially at one of our Italian properties, as they usually also allow you to access to a certain kind of community, very much linked to the local environment.

By the way, thanks a lot to Susan for her continued support!

Of course, I would be very happy to hear if you find them interesting or if you wish any particular topic to be approached. If we can we will.

This week we talk about Fruits and Vegetables, Tomatoes and Beans:

Fruits and Vegetables

It is well established that a high intake of fresh fruit and vegetables has a protective effect on both heart and degenerative diseases; probably because of the antioxidants they contain.

Furthermore, they are also a rich source of fibre and are loaded with many other vitamins and minerals that have a positive effect on health.

The challenge is to eat plenty of them every day and preferably at each meal.

Eating at least 5 fresh fruits and vegetables daily (which is what the experts recommend) becomes easy and delicious with the wide variety of traditional Italian dishes that feature fresh produce as their main ingredient, thanks to the huge abundance of local fruits and vegetables available in traditional Italian markets (or the ‘mercato communale’).


Tomatoes deserve special attention because they feature so heavily in Italian cuisine (pasta sauces, pizza).

Importantly, heat processing such as cooking (as in the preparation of tomato sauces) is recommended as it increases the availability of a substance known as lycopene.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant which helps neutralize harmful free radicals, which are implicated in heart disease and a variety of age-related illnesses.

Perhaps another reason to indulge in a plate of ‘pasta al pomodoro’ or a ‘pizza margherita’?


Beans of all types are a common feature in the typical Italian diet (soups, salads and pastas).

Beans are a near miracle food, not only being a good source of low fat protein and fibre, but also containing plenty of health-boosting vitamins and minerals.

They are particularly rich in B complex vitamins – needed both for the proper metabolism of carbohydrates (and therefore efficient energy production and weight management), but also essential for helping maintain a healthy nervous system (and therefore mental and emotional well-being).

They cannot be stored in our bodies, so we depend entirely on our daily diet to supply them.

Furthermore, B vitamins are destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, nicotine, and caffeine so it is no surprise that many people may be deficient in these. Something to remember next time you enjoy that nice bowl of ‘pasta al fagioli’.

Ciao a tutti,

Luca Catalano (Mr) – Realitalia Freehold Managed Italian Property

*Susan Marshall Tomassini, Nutritional Therapist BSc MBANT