Ancient Greek Tips for Better Health Today

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Francine Segan

-1- Drink Wine!

The ancient Greeks thought that wine was essential to good health because they thought it aided digestion and sparked conversation during dinner. They called a meal without wine a “dog’s dinner.” So do as the ancient Greeks—chat, nibble, sip and chew. Repeat!  


Ancient Greek Tips for Better Health Today , francine segan, the three tomatoes

-2- Food not pharmacy

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, famously wrote, “Let food be they medicine.”  When patients were sick the first thing Hippocrates prescribed was a change in diet. An apple a day anyone?

 -3- Don’t forget your dreams

It wasn’t just Freud who was into dreams. Hippocrates analyzed dreams to help diagnose what ailed his patients. He believed that while we sleep our body tries to communicate to our brain. For Hippocrates, if someone is healthy he dreams, more or less, about normal daily activities.  Dreams of weird floods might mean kidney problems, dreams of trees falling might mean a guy needed the equivalent of ancient blue pill. Interestingly, Hippocrates observed that patients often have frightening nightmares of “monstrous bodies” after a too-heavy meal.  The ancient Greeks thougth figs kept away nightmares. Don’t take any chances; try this fig recipe before you see a horror movie

Ancient Greek Tips for Better Health Today , francine segan, the three tomatoes

-4- -4- Eat your veggies….raw 

Ancient Greek Tips for Better Health Today ,francine segan, the threetomatoes

Raw foods craze? New fad? Nope! The ancient Greeks believed that to stay healthy you should eat some raw food, like salads, every day.  Low carb diet? Not new either. Hippocrates thought that Olympic athletes should eat a low carb diet while training.  They didn’t know about “carbs” back then, but he did write about the importance of avoiding bread and eating mostly meat, fish and beans for leaner, stronger muscles.

-5- Don’t eat alone

Dinner in antiquity was almost always a social affair shared with a few close friends at someone’s home. The ancient Greeks actually believed that eating alone could give you indigestion because without fun conversation you might eat too much and too fast.

Herbed Olive Puree with Raw Veggies

Serves 10

This is one of my favorite recipes because it can be made days in advance and only gets better with time.

  • 1/2 cup pitted whole oil-cured black olives
  • 1/2 cup pitted whole brine-cured green olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, mint, and basil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Assorted raw veggies

Combine the olives, onion, olive oil, garlic and fennel seed in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Place in a serving bowl, top with the minced herbs and the lemon zest. Serve with raw vegetables.

Assorted Stuffed Figs

Serves 6

Dried figs, plumped in wine and then filled with either prosciutto, mascarpone, or pistachios, make for an irresistible appetizer. Sweet dreams!

  • 18 dried figs
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachio nuts
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into strips

In a small saucepan, bring the figs and wine to a simmer and cook until the figs are soft, about 10 minutes.  Cut off the little stem and slice the figs.  Put the figs on a serving platter and top some with mascarpone and lemon zest; others with pistachios and honey and the rest with prosciutto.


  • Francine Segan

    Francine Segan, James Beard finalist and author of 6 cookbooks, can be found throughout NYC giving fun talks and cooking demos. She’s a regular at the 92nd St Y, Eataly’s cooking school, Chocolate Show, and New York Times Travel Show. Her specialty is Italy and her latest books are Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy and Dolci: Italy’s Sweets . She has appeared on numerous TV programs including Today Show, Early Show and Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. Peek at for more info on her books & upcoming talks Visit Francine at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.