Our Greek Meze Platter proves to be a popular Pantry choice on the “Eighties” menu. Here's why we love it, beyond it being just a great sharing board!
Firstly, the research…
Researchers first started studying the diets and health of people who live along the Mediterranean Sea over 50 years ago. Today, the health benefits of this eating style are widely known — including a longer life, improved brain function, better eye health, decreased risk of heart disease, and improved arthritis.
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that about 30% of deaths from heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes could be prevented in high-risk populations if individuals switched to a Mediterranean diet. The findings were so compelling that the study ended early (after 5 years), as it was considered unethical to continue.
One of the major benefits of the diet is its effect on inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a condition that is thought to contribute to many diseases. The Mediterranean diet is rich in monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil, nuts and seeds), which may reduce inflammation in the body.
So…How to eat like the Greek!
The traditional Mediterranean diet includes many key foods that promote heart health.
Eat 5+ serving of fruits, vegetables and legumes
Vegetables play a major role in traditional Greek meals. In this region, people eat an average of 6+ produce servings each day. Western diets are typically lacking in produce.
Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, and tamarind
Choose healthy fats
Olive oil is the main fat used in Greece. If olive oil is not for you, try adding whole olives to salads or snacks for extra healthy fat. Our new love affair is with Rapeseed oil, half the sat fat of Olive oil. Nuts are also encouraged in balanced portions due to their beneficial effects fighting heart disease.
Select whole grains
Grains in this region are typically whole grains and contain little added trans fat and sugar. Unlike western regions, bread is not served with butter, but rather dipped in heart healthy olive oil.
Include fish and shellfish
Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce inflammation. Oily fish, such as tuna, herring, sardines and salmon, are excellent sources of omega-3 fats. Aim for at least 2-3 servings per week for optimal benefits.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation
You may think that drinking large portions of wine is part of the Mediterranean lifestyle, but moderation is key.
Eat less meat
Traditionally, meat is eaten infrequently and in small portions in this region of the world. Unlike western diets, meat is not the main focus of the meal. Eggs or legumes are regularly served in place of meat.
Go for minimally-processed foods
Exactly what our philosophy at The Pantry is all about. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes minimally-processed, whole foods. Choose local, fresh produce when possible. Flavour meals with spices and herbs rather than jars of sauce and sugar.
A Mediterranean shopping list