Epidemiologist Dr. Tassos Kyriakides

Epidemiologist Dr. Tassos Kyriakides explores the social aspect of food and eating.










Dr. Tassos Kyriakides: The Greek word for "friend" indicates the social and mental implications of Greek cuisine.

Transcript: [Dr. Kyriakides] The health value of the Mediterranean, of the Greek food and Greek nutrition is very well established. There is a lot of literature; a lot of work has been done. Researchers [in Yale] have shown benefits in terms of cardiovascular, preventing infectious diseases, mainly chronic diseases. If you look at people who adopt a nutritional profile that is more of the Mediterranean and Greek kind, long term have many many benefits - whether it is survival, whether it is prevention of cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure control etc. It is very well established in olive oil being one of the main ingredients, the use of sea food and fish, a lot of vegetables that we use in our cuisine. I don’t think anybody doubts the benefits from a physical health.

I take it a step further: I do not think it is just the physical health, e.g. that you eat garlic and your blood pressure would be under control, or that you eat olive oil that has antioxidants and helps you cardiovascularly. I think that there is a bigger dimension in terms of your social health, your other kind of health, even mental health. Food is part of the human beings, it is not just “I eat garlic because it helps me”; it is “I eat garlic because I use it in the food, which I share with my friends and my family sitting around the table”. This interaction adds a lot more to the benefit that you get by eating the ingredient. If you look at the Greek word for friend, it has the word “food” in: syntrofos [seen + tro + fos], somebody that you eat with. To me, this is an extension to what food means in the Greek culture and setting, because you sit around the table and you share things and you talk about things, about life, about your problems, while you are enjoying good food, while you are interacting with people. It adds this “back and forth”, and you use it as a way to have a better outlook on life as you are enjoying good food - you can’t go wrong with that.

I am Tassos Kyriakides, I am an epidemiologist at Yale School of Public Health, and I love to eat Greek.