So, it seems there’s still some degree of debate as to exactly why people in the Mediterranean live longer and how elements in their diet such as vegetables, fish, grains, red wine and fatty nuts and oils help to increase their life expectancy. However, scientists now believe that the combination of salad and olive oil is one of the things that has beneficial effects on health. According to recent research, early studies suggest that it’s this combination of olive oil and salad that creates a special kind of nitro fatty acid that lowers blood pressure which in turn has a positive effect on the reduction of life shortening cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart failure and heart attack.
Lettuce is one of the easiest things in the world to grow, especially if you buy little plantlets from the Vivero (garden centre). They are mostly cool climate plants so grow just as happily in Northern Europe as they do in the Mediterranean and can even be grown in a window box. If you haven’t tasted freshly picked salad leaves then I really would recommend it – the difference in taste between a freshly picked salad leaf and a shop bought one is incredible, they are simply delicious and bursting with just picked energy. We pick the leaves off as we need them, just a handful at a time starting from the outer edge and it actually encourages the plant to grow. The bowl of leaves then gets soaked in cold water with a dash of vinegar to ‘out’ any crawlies, before being drained in a colander and shaken in a tea-towel Jamie Oliver style using centrifugal force. Then, all you need do is toss them in olive oil, lemon juice and crushed garlic – simply delicious!