What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean Diet does not cut out one food group, but puts an emphasis on the healthiest ones and gives healthier options for the not so healthy ones.
The diet is based on traditional foods in the Mediterranean, such as Crete, Italy and Greece.
Researchers found that people in the Mediterranean were much healthier than Americans and had a lower risk of lifestyle diseases.
From an initial study during the 1950s and 60s, the Mediterranean Diet as we know it today was formed.
By following the Mediterranean Diet you will increase your longevity, lose/manage your weight and decrease your risk of lifestyle diseases.
When it comes to food, the focus is on the traditional foods of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
The diet can be fun and flavorful with olive oil, herbs and spices and, if you are so inclined, a glass of wine.
Your main food source will be plant-based: Fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts.
What to Eat
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is a map for healthy eating and living.
On the Mediterranean Diet, the goal is to find a way to eat that is sustainable.
Your main source of food will be plant-based, with less dairy, poultry and meat.
That doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out those foods, but eat them in moderation.
While the Mediterranean Diet doesn’t strictly prohibit certain foods, it does recommend avoiding them most often.
The diet is based on foods with a whole, single ingredient. Check out our simple Mediterranean diet pyramid for visual help.
Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, zucchini, carrots, cabbage, asparagus, green beans, beets, chard, mushrooms, bell peppers
Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, cherries, strawberries, grapes, pears, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, dates, figs, melon, peaches, nectarine, watermelon, avocado, plums
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, flaxseed, hemp seed, poppy seeds, chia seeds
Legumes: Peas, beans, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas
Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams
Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, whole oats, rye, barley, farro, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole grain bread and pasta
Fish and seafood: Salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, halibut, swordfish, cod
Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey, eggs
Herbs and spices: Garlic, mint, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, thyme, cumin, cardamom, dill, turmeric
Healthy fats: Olive oil, olives, avocado, avocado oil
Drink: Water, coffee, tea, red wine (in moderation)
Eat in Moderation:
Poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.)
Foods with added sugars
When it comes to the diet, you don’t need to eat meat, poultry or seafood every meal to get your protein.
Add beans, whole grains and vegetables for a protein and fiber packed meal.
If you want dessert try fruit that is in season. Eat it raw, poach, sauté or grill whatever fruit you have on hand. Get creative.
If you want, add a glass of red wine to the mix.
While wine is included in the diet, make sure to not overdrink.
Women and men over the age of 65 should drink no more than 5 ounces of wine daily. And men under 65 should drink no more than 10 ounces, according to Mayo Clinic.
If you are unable to stick to these guidelines or have a history of alcohol abuse – refrain from drinking.
A Mediterranean Sample Menu for 1 Week
Below is a sample menu for one week on the Mediterranean diet.
Feel free to adjust the portions and food choices based on your own needs and preferences.
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with strawberries and oats.
Lunch: Whole-grain sandwich with vegetables.
Dinner: A tuna salad, dressed in olive oil. A piece of fruit for dessert.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins.
Lunch: Leftover tuna salad from the night before.
Dinner: Salad with tomatoes, olives and feta cheese.
Breakfast: Omelet with veggies, tomatoes and onions. A piece of fruit.
Lunch: Whole-grain sandwich, with cheese and fresh vegetables.
Dinner: Mediterranean lasagna.
Breakfast: Yogurt with sliced fruits and nuts.
Lunch: Leftover lasagne from the night before.
Dinner: Broiled salmon, served with brown rice and vegetables.
Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables, fried in olive oil.
Lunch: Greek yogurt with strawberries, oats and nuts.
Dinner: Grilled lamb, with salad and baked potato.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins, nuts and an apple.
Lunch: Whole-grain sandwich with vegetables.
Dinner: Mediterranean pizza made with whole wheat, topped with cheese, vegetables and olives.
Breakfast: Omelet with veggies and olives.
Lunch: Leftover pizza from the night before.
Dinner: Grilled chicken, with vegetables and a potato. Fruit for dessert.
There is usually no need to count calories or track macronutrients (protein, fat and carbs) on the Mediterranean diet.
Healthy Mediterranean Snacks
You don’t need to eat more than 3 meals per day.
But if you become hungry between meals, there are plenty of healthy snack options:
A handful of nuts.
A piece of fruit.
Carrots or baby carrots.
Some berries or grapes.
Leftovers from the night before.
Apple slices with almond butter.
Mediterranean Diet Do’s:
Use olive oil abundantly for cooking, and for seasoning dishes
Eat 2 or more servings of vegetables every day, with at least one serving fresh in a salad
Eat at least 2-3 daily servings of fresh fruit (“including natural juices”)
Eat at least 3 servings per week of “legumes”
Eat at least 3 servings of fish or seafood, including at least one serving of fatty fish
Eat at least one weekly serving of nuts or seeds
Eat white meat (chicken, rabbit) instead of red meat, burgers, sausages, or processed meat
Cook at least twice weekly with a sauce of tomato, onion, and garlic, which should be made by simmering these ingredients in olive oil. Use this as dressing for vegetables, pasta, rice, and other dishes.
Eat two main meals of the day seated at the table; each should last at least 20 minutes
Use wine as main alcohol, drink 1-3 glasses per day
Consume the following foods as desired: nuts, eggs, fish, seafood, low-fat cheese, dark chocolate, and whole-grain cereals.
Mediterranean Diet Don’ts: Limit or avoid
cream, butter, margarine
cold meats, pâté, duck
carbonated or sweet beverages
pastries, cakes, donuts, cookies, puddings, custards, especially if industrially produced
fries and potato chips
Aim for less than one serving per week of cured ham, red meat, and fatty cheeses.
This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.