Two spoons of olive oil for a healthy heart
Ever since antiquity olive oil has been seen as liquid gold: in addition to being used for sustenance, it was often used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. It was also used as a condiment, and to this day you can still see people of older generations pouring a few drops of olive oil into polenta and mashed potatoes. Centuries before the development of pharmocological compounds this is how materials vital to our health were ingested into the our system. Two spoons of olive oil a day will significantly help prevent coronary heart disease, as well as having a beneficial effect on the reduction of bad cholesterol, preventing the development of atherosclerosis and several types of cancer, and having a medicinal effect on several other diseases.
Some of Croatia’s finest olive farmers can be found in the areas surrounding Buje, Brtonigla, Novigrad and Umag, so if you happen to find yourself on one of the olive oil roads, treat yourself to a bottle of first-class olive oil so that on your way home you can play with the ideas about which dishes you can use it in, while at the same time nourishing your organism with a formidable amount of vitamin E and unsaturated fatty acids.
Herbs and medicinal plants as sustenance, medicine and perfume
One of the healthy practices of our forefathers was the use of different herbs, whether wild or home-grown. Bay leaf, marjoram, rosemary and basil are just some of the herbs used on a daily basis for sustenance, medicinal and even cosmetic purposes. For example, by adding finely chopped bay leaves to salt which was used to cure meat before drying it gave the meat a particular aroma but also ensured that the intense smell would keep away the insects that might lay their eggs on the fresh meat as well as the rodents who might want to eat it.
This is how our ancestors used to ensure that dried meats could be consumed safely before preservatives were invented. Basil and rosemary were used as natural deodorants: women would gladly carry fresh leaves in their pockets, which gave them a fresh body odour as well as protection from potential pests.
A glass of wine for “good blood”
From time to time you will still be offered a glass of red wine “for good blood”, an old custom that comes from the time when iron supplements could not be bought in a pharmacy, and was instead ingested with wine that accompanied lunch and dinner. Since ancient times wine made from darker wine varieties was believed to have a beneficial effect on the blood, and modern medicine has confirmed it: a nice glass of red wine will protect blood vessels, increase circulation and treat anaemia.
The teran, a renowned Istrian variety is one of the finest local wines, and its consumption is recommended in order to increase the iron levels in the blood and reduce the likelihood of thrombosis. Some of the finest local wineries that produce this wine can be found in Northwest Istria: Cattunar, Coronica and Kabola are guaranteed not to disappoint you with the terans from their cellars.
Biking to a healthier mind and body
Although it might not be advisable to get on a bike right after a glass of wine, this is another custom that goes back to older times and has a positive effect on our organism. It is debatable whether biking used to be seen as a necessity or a healthy exercise, but the fact is that it was common and that it exercised both the mind and the body. Perhaps there didn’t use to be well maintained biking trails that Northwest Istria is so rich in these days, but biking was still an everyday activity.