What is The Mediterranean Diet? (Plans And Menu)

plate filled with Mediterranean diet food.

The Mediterranean diet is superabundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil, and wine.

Although this diet has been around since ancient times, its popularity has only recently increased.

“Keep reading to find out what makes it so unique!”

Mediterranean Diet Explained

The Mediterranean diet comprises food staples of countries around the Mediterranean sea, such as Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. It is distinguished by the high consumption of vegetables and olive oil and moderate protein consumption.

The Mediterranean diet is often described as both delicious and nutritious. It contains flavorful ingredients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.

Dr. Ancel Keys developed the Mediterranean diet in the 1950s as an alternative to the typical American diet (1). He believed that the traditional diets of Europe were healthier than those of the United States. In addition, he wanted to find ways to prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

He theorized that a Mediterranean-style diet low in animal fat protects against heart disease. He also postulated that a diet high in animal fats led to heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet has many health benefits. Some research shows this diet regulates blood sugar levels, supports brain function, promotes heart health, and has many more benefits.

A video can explain it maybe better than I can.

How to Start Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes a plant-based eating approach loaded with vegetables and healthy fats, including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish. It’s a heart-healthy diet; following it can significantly improve your health and reduce the risk for chronic conditions.

Know that the Mediterranean diet isn’t a strict plan. Instead, it’s a way of eating that emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil.

So, here’s how to start a Mediterranean diet:

Make Fruits & Veggies The Main Part of Your Meal

To start eating like the Mediterranean, eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies daily. The Mediterranean diet involves having 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Think of ways to add vegetables to meals that you usually don’t add vegetables to. The idea is they are a big part of this diet.

Focus on Whole Foods

Whole foods include fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, and olive oil. Incorporate a lot of whole foods into your diet and avoid processed foods and stick with whole food

For Protein, Eat Fish

If you follow a Mediterranean diet, your primary protein source will be fish – fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, herring, and tuna. These fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels.

You can supplement your protein intake with lean protein sources like chicken, turkey, eggs, and low-fat milk. Although, these lean protein sources are to be taken in moderation and not as much as the primary protein source.
Try to steer clear of red and processed meats.

Eat More Whole Grains

Next, replace your refined grains and fill up on whole grain bread, cereals, pasta, rice, and other starchy carbohydrates.

Whole grains offer many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugars, weight loss, and providing the body with Vitamin B and fiber.

Replace Butter with Olive Oil

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating more heart-healthy fats. So, for the most part, olive oil is the primary fat source in the Mediterranean diet. It helps lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health.

Lower your intake of sugar

For snacks, eat more nuts and fresh fruits. You can eat fruits like dates and figs to satisfy your sugar cravings.

Eat as many nuts as possible. Pair the nuts with a fruit or vegetable if you have to.
Refined sugar, flours, and processed cookies have no place in the Mediterranean diet.

Skip Processed Diary products

Feel free to eat a variety of flavorful cheeses in moderation. However, skip the processed cheese. The same goes for yogurt too.

Go for plain, fermented, and Greek yogurt. Pass on the high-sugar, flavored yogurts.
Finally, enjoy some red wine with dinner.
Enjoy red wine in moderation. However, if you don’t drink, you do not need to start drinking now.

fruits and vegetables on a table

Mediterranean Diet Foods for Breakfast and Dinner

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
These nutrients help protect against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. They also promote beautiful skin, healthy hair, and nails.

Here is a  Mediterranean food list that should feature in all your meals.

  • Fruits: You can select fruits according to your preference and shop in season for optimal nutrients. Examples include berries, apples, bananas, oranges, avocado, tomatoes, cherries, etc
  • Vegetables: You can select vegetables according to your preference and shop in season for optimal nutrients. Examples include potatoes, beets, onions, cabbage, and greens like kale, spinach, arugula, and collards.
  • Whole Grains: You can select whole grains according to your preference, and meal choice  Examples include whole-grain bread, barley, oats, wheat berries, brown rice, farro, and buckwheat
  • Fish: This is a central part of the Mediterranean diet. It would help if you ate more fish than other meat protein sources.
    Examples include salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and sardines. Other seafood is also welcome as protein sources.
  • Poultry: Lean meats should be a supplement to fish. It would be best if you ate them in moderation.
    Examples include chicken and turkey
  • Herbs, spices, and oils: Fresh herbs are mostly recommended, but dry herbs will do just fine. It is best to cut back on the amount.
    Examples include parsley, rosemary, oregano, onions, sage, mint, tarragon, basil, etc
    Examples of oils include olive oil and canola oil.
  • Dairy: Only unprocessed dairy should be taken in moderation. Examples include plain yogurt, greek yogurt, and unprocessed cheese.
  • Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes are perfect for snacks and salad toppers.
    Examples of nuts include walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, and pine nuts
    Examples of seeds include sesame seeds
    Examples of legumes include fava beans, chickpeas
  • Meat: Protein-rich meats are also welcome in the Mediterranean diet. However, eating them in small portions a couple of times per month would be best.
    Examples include pork, beef, and lamb.
    Eating eggs is also a great idea

Don’t forget about red wine. However, you do not have to if you don’t drink alcohol.

If you have no idea where to start have a look at the Mediterranean meal delivery services on the main menu.

Mediterranean Diet – My Opinion

Following the Mediterranean diet and getting a customizable pattern that focuses on healthy fats, whole grains, lean protein, and copious amounts of veggies and fruits is ideal. It can also provide several health benefits.

If you are worried about duties this diet may impose on you – selecting food and worrying that your eating out days are over, you needn’t worry.

Compared to the Keto diet this is a very easy-to-follow diet.

Eating out while following the Mediterranean diet isn’t as difficult as you might think. You just need to make sure you order wisely. Order fish instead of red meat, limit bread consumption, and choose olive oil instead of butter.

Peter Jameson

Peter Jameson is passionate about eating healthy food. While he is doing his research for this he will share that with the readers here. As an experienced home cook, he knows what to look for in the food delivery services he reviews. Read more here

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