What’s the Mediterranean diet?

Last updated on May 10th, 2023 at 06:49 am

10 minutes read.   


Mediterranean diets are filled with healthful plant ingredients. It most empathizes with the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.

It’s also associated with a variety of benefits and may help support brain function, promote heart health, regulate blood sugar levels, promote digestion, support weight loss, prevent inflammation, and more.

Although there are no concrete rules for how to follow the Mediterranean diet, there are many general guidelines you can follow to incorporate the principles of the diet into your daily routine.

This article concisely explains what the Mediterranean diet is, how to follow it, and how it can affect your health. Feel free to skip ahead.

In this article:

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Greece, and Italy.

Researchers noted that these people were exceptionally healthy and had a low risk of many chronic conditions.

Although there are no strict rules or regulations for the diet, it typically encourages fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy fats. Processed foods, added sugar and refined grains should be restricted.

As a result, you can feed like the Mediterranean no matter where you are living in the world.

Numerous studies have now shown that the Mediterranean diet can promote weight loss and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and premature death.

For this reason, the Mediterranean diet is often recommended for those looking to improve their health and protect against chronic disease.

Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a long list of health benefits.

1. Promotes heart health

The Mediterranean diet has been studied extensively for its ability to promote heart health.

In fact, research shows that the Mediterranean diet may even be linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

One study compared the effects of the Mediterranean diet and a low-fat diet and reported that the Mediterranean diet was more effective at slowing the progression of plaque buildup in the arteries, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Other research shows that the Mediterranean diet could also help lower levels of diastolic and systolic blood pressure to support heart health.

2. Supports healthy blood sugar levels

The Mediterranean diet encourages a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.

As such, following this eating pattern may help stabilize blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, multiple studies have found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve levels of hemoglobin A1C, a marker used to measure long-term blood sugar control.

The Mediterranean diet has also been shown to decrease insulin resistance, a condition that impairs the body’s ability to use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.

3. Protects brain function

Several studies show that the Mediterranean diet could be beneficial for brain health and may even protect against cognitive decline as you get older.

For example, one study including 512 people found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with improved memory and reductions in several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

Other research has found that the Mediterranean diet may be tied to a lower risk of dementia, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease.

What’s more, one large review also showed that following the Mediterranean diet was linked to improvements in cognitive function, memory, attention, and processing speed in healthy older adults.

How to follow it

Eat: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil

Eat in moderation: poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt

Eat rarely: red meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, and other highly processed foods

What to eat in the Mediterranean

Which particular foods belong to the Mediterranean diet is controversial, partly because there’s variation between countries.

The diet examined by most studies is high in healthy plant foods and relatively low in animal products and meat. However, eating fish and seafood is recommended at least twice a week.

The Mediterranean lifestyle also involves regular physical activity, sharing meals with other people, and minimizing stress levels.

You can include a mix of fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruits and vegetables, but check package labels for added sugar and sodium.

Related: Five Natural Ways to Prevent or Reverse Diabetes issues permanently

Ideally, you should base your diet on healthy whole plant organic food irrespective of where you live. Just according to the varieties in your area. For example 

Vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, ayu leaf and fruit(ugbogoro), ugu leaf (fluted pumpkin leaf), anyara and awa leaf, green, uziza leaf, ora, uturukpa, ukpocha,bitter leaf, okuru, moringa leaf (jogole), carrots, zobo leaf flower(sour), Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, Aerial yam sweet potatoes, turnips. etc.

Related: What’s Mediterranean Food Pyramid?

Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, watermelons, peaches, mmimi, Mango, pineapples, udara-agbarimo-cherry, avocado, pawpaw, ube, coconut, etc.

Nuts, Seeds, and Nut butter: almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, uziza seed, almond butter, peanut/groundnut butter

Legumes: beans, akidi (black beans),fiofio-agbugbu-peogen peas, peas, lentils, pulses, chickpeas, ukwa(breadfruit), okpa-bambara groundnut, achi, ofo, uzaaki, etc.

Whole grains: oats, rice, milo(sorghum)  rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, wheat, whole wheat bread, pasta with vegetables, etc

Fish and seafood: salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, mangara-azuokpo, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, periwinkle, crayfish, etc.

Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey, wide birds(quail-gaze). etc

Eggs: chicken, quail, and duck eggs

Dairy: cheese, yogurt, milk

Herbs and spices: garlic, basil-curry leaf/powder, mint, rosemary, thyme, ogiri, okpei, ehuru, sage, uchuawu-aligbe-cent leaf, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper. Etc

Healthy fats: palm oil, extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocado butter, shea butter and oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, etc.


WATER should be your go-to beverage on a Mediterranean diet.

This diet also includes moderate amounts of red wine — around one glass per day.

However, this is completely optional, and wine should be avoided by some people especially if you’re pregnant, or has difficulty drinking in moderation, or are taking certain medications that may interact with alcohol.

Coffee and tea are also healthy beverage choices on the Mediterranean diet. Be mindful of adding lots of added sugar or cream.

You’ll want to limit sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda or sweet tea, which are very high in added sugar.

Fruit juice would be OK to include in moderation, but you’re better off choosing whole fruits to get the benefit of fiber with unadulterated vitamins

Related: Top 5 Mediterranean Recipes and How to make them

Mediterranean Meal plan

Below is a sample menu for 1 week of meals on the Mediterranean diet.

Feel free to adjust the portions and food choices based on your own needs and preferences, and add snacks as desired.


Breakfast: Greek yogurt with strawberries and chia seeds

Lunch: a whole grain sandwich with hummus and vegetables

Dinner: a tuna salad with greens and olive oil, as well as a fruit salad


Breakfast: oatmeal with blueberries

Lunch: caprese zucchini noodles with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Dinner: a salad with tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, farro, grilled chicken, and feta cheese


Breakfast: an omelet with mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions

Lunch: a whole grain sandwich with cheese and fresh vegetables

Dinner: Mediterranean lasagna


Breakfast: yogurt with sliced fruit and nuts

Lunch: a quinoa salad with chickpeas

Dinner: broiled salmon with brown rice and vegetables


Breakfast: eggs and sautéed vegetables with whole wheat toast

Lunch: stuffed zucchini boats with pesto, turkey sausage, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cheese

Dinner: grilled lamb with salad and baked potato


Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins, nuts, and apple slices

Lunch: a whole grain sandwich with vegetables

Dinner: Mediterranean pizza made with whole wheat pita bread and topped with cheese, vegetables, and olives


Breakfast: an omelet with veggies and olives

Lunch: falafel bowl with feta, onions, tomatoes, hummus, and rice

Dinner: grilled chicken with vegetables, sweet potato fries, and fresh fruit

There’s usually no need to count calories or track macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) on the Mediterranean diet.

Mediterranean snacks

If you start feeling hungry between meals, there are plenty of healthy snack options you can enjoy on the Mediterranean diet.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • a handful of nuts
  • a piece of fruit
  • Baby carrots with hummus
  • mixed berries
  • grapes
  • Greek yogurt
  • Hard/soft-boiled egg with salt and pepper
  • apple slices with almond butter
  • sliced bell peppers with guacamole
  • cottage cheese with fresh fruit
  • chia pudding
  • Eating out

Many restaurant meals are suitable for the Mediterranean diet. Try to choose whole grains, vegetables, legumes, seafood, and healthy fat.

It’s also key to enjoy your meal and savor it with good company, so choose something that sounds good.

Here are a few tips to help adapt dishes when you’re eating out:

  • Choose fish or seafood as your main dish.
  • Ask the server if your food can be cooked in extra virgin olive oil.
  • Choose whole-grain bread, with olive oil instead of butter.
  • Add vegetables to your order.


Shopping list

It’s always a good idea to shop at the perimeter of the store, which is where whole foods are typically found.

Opt for nutrient-dense foods as much as possible, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.

Here are some basic Mediterranean diet items to add to your shopping list:

  • Vegetables: carrots, onions, broccoli, spinach, kale, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms
  • Frozen veggies: peas, carrots, broccoli, mixed vegetables
  • Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, melons, peaches, pears, strawberries, blueberries
  • Grains: whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, quinoa, brown rice, oats
  • Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts
  • Seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
  • Condiments: sea salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, oregano
  • Seafood: salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, shrimp, mussels
  • Dairy products: Greek yogurt, yogurt, milk
  • Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
  • Eggs: chicken, quail, and duck eggs
  • Healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, avocado oil.


Though there’s not one defined Mediterranean diet, this dietary pattern is generally rich in healthy plant foods and relatively lower in animal foods, with a focus on fish and seafood.

It has been associated with numerous health benefits and may help stabilize blood sugar levels, promote heart health, enhance brain function, and more.

Best of all, you can adapt the principles of the Mediterranean diet in a way that works for you.

You can feed like the Mediterranean no matter where live in the world. Don’t bother about the food and diet plan I mention in this article if they are not your traditional food. What’s important is to follow the concept.


I hope you get the value worth your time, I appreciate the time you spend with me. Leave a comment below if you find this article helpful and don’t forget to drop your question, opinion, or criticism if any. Cheers!


The content provided in Living Good Blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal doctor. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Living Good Blog takes no responsibility for possible health consequences of any person(s) reading or following the information in this educational content. Viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medication, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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