The Mediterranean Diet: Foods, Menus, FAQs, and Recipes

The Mediterranean diet

Everything you need to know about the Mediterranean diet plan, including foods to eat, menus, FAQs, shopping lists, and more.

The Mediterranean diet includes the food staples of people who live in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Croatia, and Italy. Their rates of chronic disease are among the lowest in the world, and also, their life expectancy is among the highest. A traditional Mediterranean diet consists of large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil.

The Mediterranean diet is most famous for its benefit to heart health. Likewise, it has also been credited to a lower likelihood of breast cancer, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In this guide, you will learn about the Mediterranean diet plan, what and what not to eat, the pros and cons of this diet, and the diet sample.

What is the Mediterranean Diet Plan?

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, including less dairy and red meat, it is similar to the Dash diet. Moreover, these fruits and vegetables contain specific nutrients that are great for your health and help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Indeed, eating foods that contain polyunsaturated fats and omega-3, such as oily fish, fruits, and vegetables, can truly support heart health.

Making changes to your diet is rarely easy, especially if you’re trying to move away from the convenience of processed and takeout foods. The Mediterranean diet can be a satisfying and healthy way to eat. The best way to incorporate the Mediterranean Diet is to gradually add more fruits and vegetables to your food.

Foods to Eat on the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet- foods to eat

The goal is to choose and eat natural products, as a result, these foods focus on vegetables and plant oils. Here is a complete list of what foods to eat and not eat on the Mediterranean Diet.

Foods to Eat

  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower.
  • Fruits: Carrots, brussels, sprouts, cucumbers, apples,  bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, peaches.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
  • Legumes:  Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas.
  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams.
  • Whole grains: Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread, pasta.
  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels.
  • Poultry and Eggs: Chicken, duck, turkey, quail eggs, duck eggs.
  • Dairy: Cheese, yogurt, greek yogurt.
  • Herbs and spices: Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper.
  • Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, avocado oil.

Foods Not to Eat

You should avoid these unhealthy foods and ingredients. Hence, make sure you read food labels carefully if you want to avoid these unhealthy ingredients.

  • Added sugar: Candies, table sugar.
  • Refined grains: White bread, pasta made with refined wheat.
  • Trans fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods.
  • Refined oils: Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, and others.
  • Processed meat: Processed sausages, hot dogs, etc.
  • Highly processed foods: Anything labeled “low-fat” or “diet” or which looks like it is from the factory.

What to Drink

When following a Mediterranean diet, these are the only drinks allowed. Red wine offers health benefits, particularly for the heart, however, it should not be taken in excess.

  • Water
  • Red wine

What Not to Drink

When you’re following the Mediterranean diet, water, and red wine should be your chosen drink. So, make sure to avoid these other drinks as they are not healthy choices.

  • Soda
  • Ice cream
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol: brandy, beer, rum

The Mediterranean Diet: Pros and Cons

The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is touted for its health benefits. There are, however, some cons to the Mediterranean eating plan. Here are the pros and cons of the diet plan.

Pros

  • Having a balanced and flavorful diet.
  • It promotes your heart health.
  • Helps with better diabetes prevention and management.
  • Mental health benefits.
  • Helps with weight loss management.
  • Reduces inflammatory markers.
  • Cancer prevention.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • It covers all major food groups.

Cons

  • Some foods are expensive, so you must be financially prepared to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
  • Additional guidance may be necessary for specific conditions. Some people with diabetes may need additional guidance while on this diet.
  • Some dietary restrictions may be challenging. For instance, this diet recommends reducing red meat and added sugar consumption, which may be difficult for some people.
  • There is the possibility of reduced calcium and vitamin D intake.
  • Unlike many other eating patterns, the Mediterranean diet does not provide specific calorie counts, food portion sizes.
  • It can be time-consuming as well as tasking

A Mediterranean Sample Menu for 1 Week

In the meantime, here 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.

Monday

  • Breakfast: Omelet with veggies, tomatoes, and onions. A piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Whole-grain sandwich, with cheese and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Mediterranean lasagne.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Yogurt with sliced fruits and nuts.
  • Lunch: Leftover lasagne from the night before.
  • Dinner: Broiled salmon, served with brown rice and vegetables

Wednesday

  • 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.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins.
  • Lunch: Leftover tuna salad from the night before.
  • Dinner: Salad with tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese.

Friday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables, fried in olive oil.
  • Lunch: Greek yogurt with strawberries, oats, and nuts.
  • Dinner: Grilled lamb, with salad and baked potato.

Saturday

  • 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.

Sunday

  • 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.

Summary

Thank you for reading our guide on the Mediterranean Diet. Please feel free to download and use our free embedded checklists. It will be helpful when creating your menus and making your grocery shopping list.