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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 towards some helpful recipes and provide some meal suggestions.

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.

According to certain research, residents of these areas are generally healthier and are less likely to develop a number of chronic illnesses than those who consume a typical American diet.

People usually do the following:

  • Consume more:

o Whole grains o legumes o nuts and seeds o fruits o veggies o heart-healthy fats

  • Use less:

processed foods, refined grains, and added sugars

  • Reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.

Based on research, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to:

  • Encourage weight loss;
  • Help avoid heart attacks, strokes, and type 2 diabetes;
  • Lower the risk of dying young.

This makes the Mediterranean diet a good choice for people who want to get healthier and fend off chronic illnesses.

How to adhere to it

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

Give special attention to whole grains, fish, seafood, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, and extra virgin olive oil.

Red wine, chicken, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, and consumption levels of low to moderate

Refined cereals, processed meat, added sugars, beers, liquors, and other highly processed foods should all be limited or avoided.

A person’s health may also be enhanced by adopting certain Mediterranean lifestyle traits, such as:

  • enjoying meals with others while avoiding screen time;
  • drinking red wine sparingly and with meals; and
  • seasoning food with herbs and spices rather than salt.

Foods to consume

The fact that there are differences throughout nations makes it challenging to identify which foods are part of the Mediterranean diet.

But overall, the diet consists of:

  • lots of nutritious plant foods;
  • little meat and animal products; and
  • fish and seafood at least twice a week.

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.

Your diet can be centred around these foods:

  • Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches; vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips;
  • Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, and peanut butter
  • Legume: legumes, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas, beans, and peasWhole grains include buckwheat, corn, rye, barley, oats, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta and bread.
  • Fish and seafood: shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, and poultry like chicken, duck, and turkey. Dairy items comprise milk, cheese, and yoghurt.
  • Nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, and extra virgin olive oil
  • Healthy fats:Avocado oil, olives, and avocados are examples of healthy fats.

Discover some pointers for wholesome grocery purchasing.

Foods to Avoid

Avoid the following foods when following a Mediterranean diet:

  • Added sugar: this ingredient is present in a lot of foods, but it’s particularly prevalent in soda, candy, ice cream, syrup, table sugar, and baked goods.
  • Refined grains: crackers, chips, tortillas, white bread, and pasta
  • Trans fats: included in fried foods, margarine, and other processed foods
  • Meat that has been processed: beef jerky, hot dogs, deli meats, and sausages
  • Highly processed foods: such as granola bars, microwave popcorn, fast food, and convenience meals

Drinks

Included in the drinks are:

  • water
  • Tea and coffee are acceptable as well, but use less cream or sugar.
  • Fresh fruit juices without added sugar;
  • Red wine in moderation, and only in conjunction with meals

Sample recipes and menu items

A example Mediterranean diet menu for a week is provided below.

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 yoghurt topped with chia seeds and strawberries for breakfast

  • A whole grain sandwich with veggies and hummus for lunch
  • Dinner consists of a fruit salad and tuna salad dressed with leaves and olive oil.

Tuesday:

feta cheese, farro, baked trout, olives, and cucumbers for breakfast; caprese zucchini noodles with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for lunch; and a salad for dinner.

Wednesday:

whole grain sandwich with cheese and fresh veggies for lunch; omelette with mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions for breakfast

Thursday

night’s meal is Mediterranean lasagne; for breakfast, yoghurt with nuts and sliced fruit; for lunch, quinoa salad with chickpeas; and for dinner, broiled fish with brown rice and veggies.

Friday:

stuffed zucchini boats with pesto, turkey sausage, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cheese for lunch; grilled lamb with salad and baked potatoes for dinner; breakfast of eggs and sautéed vegetables with whole wheat bread.

Saturday:

Whole wheat pita bread for the dinner; Mediterranean pizza with cheese, veggies, and olives; breakfast of oatmeal with almonds and raisins or apple slices; lunch of lentil salad with feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives;

Sunday:

Grilled chicken with veggies, sweet potato fries, and fresh fruit for dinner; an omelette with veggies and olives for breakfast; a falafel bowl with feta, onions, tomatoes, hummus, and rice for lunch.

Unless you are controlling your glucose levels, there is typically no need to measure macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) or count calories when following a Mediterranean diet.

However, it is imperative to eat everything in proportion.