9 Essential Ingredients of Italian Cuisine
Historically, unrefined grains (whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread, barley, whole wheat couscous) are the base of most Mediterranean diets. Leaving the grains whole lowers their glycemic index, so they are digested more slowly and produce gentler rises in glucose and insulin than refined versions; they also retain all their fiber, magnesium, vitamin E and other antioxidant phytochemicals. Diets rich in whole grains may protect against heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Top toasted whole-grain bread with diced tomatoes, garlic and basil and toss whole-wheat pasta with olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese.