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Enjoy 'World's Healthiest Food' at Masseria San Domenico, Puglia

Groundbreaking research recently published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has identified the mechanism that has helped establish the Mediterranean Diet as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Long championed by Dr. Agostino Grassi, consultant nutritionist at Puglia’s award-winning Leading Spas member Masseria San Domenico, as a fundamental part of its wellbeing philosophy, the Mediterranean Diet has been proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 30 per cent. Yet despite its global reputation as one of the world’s healthiest cuisines, precisely what makes the Mediterranean Diet so beneficial has never been fully understood - until now.

Typically the Mediterranean Diet is based on a variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, olive oil and fish - each of which has its own independent nutritional benefits. However, a series of experiments by researchers from King’s College London, the University of California and the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine showed that when mice consumed two or more of these food groups together, their bodies began to produce essential nitro fatty acids. 

Formed by a reaction between the unsaturated fatty acids in olive oil and nitrogen in vegetables, nitro fatty acids block the enzyme sEH (soluble epoxide hydrolase), lowering blood pressure and thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The study - part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, the UK Medical Research Council and the Department of Health – concluded that the results suggest “a mechanism accounting for protection from hypertension afforded by the Mediterranean Diet”.  

With the Mediterranean Diet forming a key cornerstone of its wellbeing philosophy, Masseria San Domenico works closely with the Secretary to the Foundation for Mediterranean Diet NPO (non-profit organisation), Dr. Agostino Grassi. Dr. Grassi’s interpretation of the Mediterranean Diet at Masseria San Domenico is not simply a low-calorie food regimen geared towards weight loss, but a lifestyle where “interaction with the social environment, respect for the territory, biodiversity, conservation and further enhancement of traditions are promoted”. Far from being a strict regime of calorie counting, privation and sacrifice, the goal is to promote a person’s overall physical and psychological wellbeing. According to Dr. Grassi, “you don’t lose a lot of weight at the beginning, as is often the case with high-protein diets, but this is an advantage as it allows you to eliminate fat instead of water” – thus making it possible to maintain the newly acquired ideal weight for longer.  

Guests at Masseria San Domenico are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants serving delicious dishes based on the Mediterranean Diet and the traditional cuisine of Apulia.  True to its 18th century origins as the Masseria’s olive press, the hotel’s main Ristorante San Domenico - dominated by impressive, classically Apulian vaulted ceilings – offers typical regional specialities such as Medaglioni di melanzane con vellutata di pomodoro (aubergine medallions with tomato velouté), accompanied by a rich selection of the best local wines. The waterfront La Nassa serves typical Puglian maritime specialties prepared by Chef Leonardo Dibiase, while the more casual Pool Grill serves an al fresco regional buffet.  

Nestled among nearly 250 acres of ancient olive groves, the hotel produces some of the world’s finest olive oils which form an essential component of its cuisine. All the dishes use the freshest local ingredients, often produced on Masseria San Domenico’s own estate.

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