A Mediterranean Pantry leads you to heart healthy foods on a day-to-day basis.
A few weeks ago, one of my clients told me that she intended to transform her home pantry into one that features Mediterranean foods. She said it in a firm and proud voice. I was totally impressed. Anytime a home pantry is cleaned or re-arranged, it is usually also refreshed nutritionally. Think about your last ‘spring cleaning’ project. My last big pantry cleaning was due to some tiny bugs that got into all the wheat foods, like flour and crackers and pasta. What a job and yet when the pantry was finally clean and bug-free, it was a fantastic feeling!
Why a Mediterranean Pantry Helps the Heart
There is a lot of credible and current research about the connection between eating Mediterranean style foods and having a healthy heart. To keep it simple, the evidence of this connection dates back about 60 years to a scientist named Ancel Keys. His Seven Countries Study basically showed that the simple foods eaten by people in rural areas of Crete and southern Italy resulted in a lower incidence of death from coronary heart disease. In more modern times, this 2018 Spanish Study confirmed that the incidence of heart related events can be reduced significantly with Mediterranean nutrition.
The go-to foods that you shop for regularly and store at home in the pantry are your meal and snack building blocks. So, when the home pantry is a Mediterranean foods pantry, these become favorites for every day. Putting research, like the heart studies, into every day practice doesn’t necessarily work if the foods taste lousy, right? This is another reason why the Mediterranean eating pattern can be so successful for everyone who gives it a try. Foods like extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, and some fatty fish are what I call great filler-uppers, because they make you feel full and satisfied after eating them. The foods are filling due to their unsaturated fat and fiber content, and they are also rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants – all important for a healthy heart.
6 Steps to Success with a Mediterranean Pantry
- Clean out, clean up. Before buying Mediterranean foods to stock in your pantry, it’s super important to clean out old, expired foods, duplicate foods, and to make everything clean and fresh. Get out a clean rag and wipe down shelves, the floor, everything.
- Buy see-through containers. Glass containers or jars are typically a great choice because they do not react or interfere with the flavors of what you store in them. Buy what you can afford at first and then add more later.
- Buy bag-sealing clips. There are many foods that come in pouches and paper packages, so clips will keep them closed for freshness.
- Find the right grocery store(s.) It is worthwhile to visit a few grocery stores and look around for your Mediterranean shopping needs. You’ll notice that some stores stock more of the foods you want to buy.
- Rotate your pantry. Once a week, take a look through your new Mediterranean pantry and move older cans/packages to the front, move newer cans/packages to the back. This will help you use up the older, still fresh, foods first. It will keep you from running out of necessities and it will remind you about some less familiar foods that you bought and want to try.
- Take notes. When you look through your pantry or whenever, jot down a new Mediterranean food that you find out about. Write down a new Mediterranean meal or snack idea that crosses your mind. Read over your notes whenever you open the pantry and try your new ideas.
The Process of Eating Healthier for the Heart
Every time you grab a Mediterranean food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, you’re making a great decision for the health of your heart. The 6-step process above will assist you in transforming your home pantry into a Mediterranean one. When you begin using the transformed pantry to prepare tasty meals, you will begin to gain confidence. Be brave and try to nudge yourself to fill each weekly grocery basket with more and more of these smart, Mediterranean choices – your heart will thank you and your taste buds will, too. Which Mediterranean meal will you make first from your Mediterranean pantry?