A Beginner’s Guide and Meal Plan for the Mediterranean Diet : healthline.com

The heart-healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that are abundant in the Mediterranean diet make it a tasty and nourishing choice. It might support heart health, help you control your weight, and stave off diabetes at healthline.com

The Mediterranean diet has no set restrictions, but you can apply its ideas to your everyday activities by adhering to certain broad guidelines.

This article examines the Mediterranean diet in greater detail, including how to follow it and potential health benefits. We also point you toward some helpful recipes and provide some meal suggestions at healthline.com

What is the diet known as the Mediterranean?

The traditional cuisine of the Mediterranean Sea-bordering nations of France, Spain, Greece, and Italy form the basis of the Mediterranean diet healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan

A little investigationAccording to a reliable source, residents in these areas are generally healthier and are less likely to develop a number of chronic illnesses than those who consume a typical American diet at healthline.com

How to adhere to it

A Mediterranean diet does not have a predetermined schedule, although the following table provides some guidelines:

A person’s health may also be enhanced by some aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle, which include:

dividing mealsTrusted Source sipping red wine while interacting with others and avoiding distractions from screens and other devicesTrusted Source Flavored foods should be consumed in moderation, with a meal, and not every day.Reliable Source using spices and herbs in place of sal at healthline.com

foods to consume

Determining which foods are part of the Mediterranean diet can be challenging, in part due to regional variations (Trusted Source).

All in all, nevertheless, the diet:

contains a lot of nutritious plant foods
includes fish and seafood at least twice a week and is low in animal products and meat

A variety of fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruits and vegetables can be used; however, be sure to read the labels to avoid adding excessive sugar or sodium at healthline.com

Your diet can be centered around these foods:

Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, broccoli, kale, spinach, and tomatoes

Fruits include grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, oranges, bananas, pears, strawberries, and bananas.

Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, and peanut butter are among the nuts and seed combinations at healthline.com

  • Legume crops: legumes, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas, beans, and peas
    Whole grains include buckwheat, corn, rye, barley, oats, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta and bread.
    Fish and seafood include shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, trout, tuna, salmon, and sardines.
  • Birds: chicken, duck, and turkey
  • Eggs: quail, duck, and chicken eggs Dairy products include milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Herbs and spices: pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, sage, rosemary, mint, garlic, and basil
    Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil are examples of healthy fats.
    foods to avoid

On a Mediterranean diet, avoid the following foods:

Added sugar is included in a variety of meals, but it’s particularly prevalent in soda, sweets, ice cream, syrup, table sugar, and baked goods at healthline.com

Refined grains include pasta, chips, crackers, tortillas, and white bread.

  • Trans fats: included in fried foods, margarine, and other processed foods
    Processed meat includes hot dogs, deli meats, processed sausages, and beef jerky.
    Highly processed foods include granola bars, microwave popcorn, fast food, and convenience meals at healthline.com
  • Some beverages to try are: Water, coffee, and tea can also be enjoyed, but only in moderation. Red wine should only be paired with a meal and fresh fruit juices free of added sugar.
  • Limit your alcohol intake: Beer and liquor sugar-sweetened drinks, like sodas, which have a lot of added sugar, and sugar-sweetened fruit juices

Sample recipes and menu items

  • A example Mediterranean diet menu for a week is provided below at healthline.com
  • You are welcome to modify the serving sizes and menu items to suit your own requirements and tastes, and to include extra snacks if you’d like.
  • See this collection of 21 healthful Mediterranean dishes for additional inspiration.

Monday

  • Greek yogurt with strawberries and chia seeds for breakfast
  • Lunch consists of a vegetable and hummus-topped whole grain sandwich.
  • Dinner consists of a fruit salad and tuna salad dressed with leaves and olive oil.

Tuesday

  • Lunch is a caprese salad made with zucchini noodles, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Supper is a salad made of farro, baked fish, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese.

Wednesday

  • An omelet with tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms for breakfast
  • Lunch would be a fresh vegetable and cheese sandwich made with nutritious grains.
  • Mediterranean lasagna for dinner

Thursday

  • yogurt topped with almonds and sliced fruit for breakfast
  • Lunch is a chickpea and quinoa salad.
  • Supper is baked fish paired with vegetables and brown rice.

Friday

  • For breakfast, have whole wheat bread with sautéed vegetables and eggs.
  • Lunch consists of stuffed zucchini boats with cheese, tomatoes, bell peppers, turkey sausage, and pesto.
  • Supper consists of baked potatoes, salad, and grilled lamb.
  • Apple slices or porridge with nuts and raisins for breakfast

Saturday

  • Lunch is feta-topped lentil salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives.
    Dinner is a whole wheat pita bread-based Mediterranean pizza topped with olives, cheese, and vegetables.
    An omelet with veggies and olives for breakfast on Sunday
  • Lunch consists of a falafel bowl with rice, hummus, onions, tomatoes, and feta.
  • Dinner consists of fresh fruit, sweet potato fries, and grilled chicken with veggies.

Unless you are controlling your glucose levels, there is typically no need to track macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) or count calories when following a Mediterranean diet healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan

wholesome munchies

If you find yourself getting hungry in between meals, there are several of nutritious snack options available, like:

a few almonds
a fruit slice Baby carrots with hummus, mixed berries, and grapes
Greek yogurt
sliced bell peppers with guacamole, a hard-boiled egg with salt and pepper, apple slices with almond butter, cottage cheese with fresh fruit, and chia pudding
Taking out food

Mediterranean-style cuisine can be found in many restaurants.

The following advice will help you modify foods when dining out:

  • Select seafood or fish for your main course.
  • When feasible, request grilled meals rather than fried.
  • Find out from the server if extra virgin olive oil can be used to prepare your food.
  • Pick whole grain bread and drizzle it with olive oil rather than butter.
  • Veggies can be added to your order.
  • Purchase list

Choose nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains when you go grocery shopping.

To start your shopping list, consider adding these staples for the Mediterranean diet:

  • veggies: kale, broccoli, onions, carrots, garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms
  • Broccoli, carrots, peas, and mixed vegetables are all frozen.
  • Tubers: yams, sweet potatoes, and potatoes
  • Fruits include pears, apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, melons, peaches, and blueberries.
  • Grains: quinoa, brown rice, oats, whole grain bread, and whole grain pasta
  • Legumes: kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Nuts: macadamia nuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, and almonds
  • Hemp, chia, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds are among the seeds.
  • Seasonings: sea salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, and oregano
  • Seafood includes trout, shrimp, mussels, mackerel, sardines, and salmon.
  • Dairy products: milk, yogurt, and Greek yogurt
  • Birds: chicken, duck, and turkey
  • Eggs: quail, duck, and chicken eggs
  • Healthy fats include avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, olives, and avocados.
  • Possibilities for Mediterranean diet benefits

Numerous health advantages have been connected to the Mediterranean diet.

aids in losing weight

There is no proof from ResearchTrusted Source that eating a Mediterranean diet would result in weight loss. Nonetheless, research has indicated that it might be a beneficial long-term choice for those trying to control their weight.

Research showed that those who adhered to the diet for five years had a lower chance of gaining extra weight than those who tried alternative diets.

Advantages consist of:

High fiber levels make a person feel fuller for longer and less prone to snack, and healthy fats reduce the risk of cardiac issues associated with obesity. A diet rich in variety makes it easy to maintain and not restrictive.
enhances cardiac health

The American Heart AssociationThe Mediterranean diet is suggested by Trusted Source as an evidence-based strategy for reducing stroke and cardiovascular disease.

For example, in 2021, a few researchers (Trusted Source) contrasted the benefits of a low-fat diet with those of a Mediterranean diet. They came to the conclusion that the Mediterranean diet was more successful in reducing the rate at which plaque accumulation in the arteries developed. A significant risk factor for heart disease is plaque accumulation.

The writers of an additional studyAccording to a reliable source, the Mediterranean diet may help heart health by reducing blood pressure.

maintains appropriate blood sugar levels

The Mediterranean diet may help prevent type 2 diabetes and normalize blood sugar levels (Trusted Source).

Research has indicated that it might:

lessenTrusted Source Long-term glucose levels are measured by hemoglobin A1C, which is improved by fasting blood sugar levels.Insulin resistance prevents the body from properly using insulin to control blood sugar levels. Reliable Source
safeguards mental processes

Consuming a Mediterranean diet may help maintain brain function and stave off cognitive deterioration as you age.

Just one studyA potential correlation between eating a Mediterranean diet, having better memory, and having less risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease was discovered by Trusted Source.

An extensive reviewAdditionally, in healthy older persons, the Mediterranean diet was associated with gains in cognitive function, memory, attention, and processing speed, according to a reliable source at healthline.com

Frequently requested inquiries

  • What foods specifically belong in a Mediterranean diet?
  • The main components of the Mediterranean diet are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.

What are the top 10 foods on a Mediterranean diet?

Examples of foods to consumeTrusted Source on a Mediterranean diet include:

  • chard
  • broccoli
  • grapes
  • parsely
  • olives and olive oil
  • lentils
  • buckwheat
  • sunflower seeds
  • avocado
  • fish

You can drink a low to moderate amount of red wine, in small servings and with a meal.

What foods can you not eat in a Mediterranean diet?

You should limit or avoid your intake of:

  • red meat
  • processed foods, including meats
  • refined carbohydrates, such as added sugars
  • sweetened drinks
  • liquor and beer

Are eggs eaten in a Mediterranean diet?

You can eat eggs in moderation, for example, 2–4 servingsTrusted Source weekly.

Is the Mediterranean diet anti-inflammatory?

In a 2018 study,Trusted Source researchers found that not following the Mediterranean diet, or not following it consistently, was associated with higher markers of inflammation in the blood. That’s because many of the foods included in this diet are known to be anti-inflammatory at healthline.com

That said, other researchTrusted Source suggests that more study is needed to determine its impact on various types of inflammation and diseases.

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