A Mediterranean diet is recommended by many physicians and dietitians to avoid illness and keep people safe for longer.
In comparison to a traditional Western diet, the Mediterranean diet emphasises fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with less dairy and meat.
We define the Mediterranean diet and include a 7-day meal plan for people to follow in this article.
Mediterranean diet definition
Following a Mediterranean diet essentially entails eating in the manner in which people in the Mediterranean region have historically eaten.
A typical Mediterranean diet contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, as well as some healthy fats and fish.
Dietary recommendations recommend that people consume the following foods:
- a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- healthful fats, such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- moderate amounts of dairy and fish
- very little white meat and red meat
- few eggs
- red wine in moderation
Despite the fact that monounsaturated fats like olive oil account for more than half of the fat calories, the diet may not be suitable for people who need to reduce their fat intake.
Building a meal plan
Unlike many other diets, the Mediterranean diet places a greater emphasis on plant foods. Vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are often used to make up all or part of a meal.
People who adopt the diet cook these foods with healthy fats like olive oil and lots of flavorful spices.
Small portions of fish, meat, or eggs can be included in meals.
Water and sparkling water, as well as moderate quantities of red wine, are common beverages.
The following foods are avoided by people who adopt a Mediterranean diet:
- refined grains, such as white bread, white pasta, and white flour pizza dough
- refined oils, which include canola oil and soybean oi.
- foods with added sugars, such as pastries, sodas, and candie.
- processed meats such as deli meats, hot dogs, and other processed meats
- processed or packaged food.
Our 7-day meal plan
Here’s an example of a Mediterranean diet meal plan for seven days:
- one pan-fried egg
- whole-wheat toast
- grilled tomatoes
Add another egg or some sliced avocado to the toast for more calories.
- 2 cups of mixed salad greens with cherry tomatoes and olives on top and a dressing of olive oil and vinegar
- whole-grain pita bread
- 2 ounces (oz) of hummus
- whole-grain pizza with tomato sauce, grilled vegetables, and low-fat cheese as toppings
Add shredded chicken, ham, tuna, or pine nuts to the pizza for extra calories.
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
- half a cup of fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries, or chopped nectarines
Add 1–2 oz. almonds or walnuts for extra calories.
- whole-grain sandwich with grilled vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and onion
Spread hummus or avocado on the bread before adding the fillings to up the calorie count.
- one portion of baked cod or salmon with garlic and black pepper to add flavor
- one roasted potato with olive oil and chives
- 1 cup of whole-grain oats with cinnamon, dates, and honey
- top with low-sugar fruits, such as raspberries
- 1 oz of shredded almonds (optional)
- boiled white beans with spices, such as laurel, garlic, and cumin
- 1 cup of arugula with an olive oil dressing and toppings of tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese
- one-half of a cup of whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce, olive oil, and grilled vegetables
- 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese
- two-egg scramble with bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes
- top with 1 oz of queso fresco or one-quarter of an avocado
- roasted anchovies in olive oil on whole-grain toast with a sprinkling of lemon juice
- a warm salad comprising 2 cups of steamed kale and tomatoes
- 2 cups of steamed spinach with a sprinkling of lemon juice and herbs
- one boiled artichoke with olive oil, garlic powder, and salt
Add another artichoke for a hearty, filling meal.
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt with cinnamon and honey on top
- mix in a chopped apple and shredded almonds
- 1 cup of quinoa with bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives
- roasted garbanzo beans with oregano and thyme
- top with feta cheese crumbles or avocado (optional)
- 2 cups of steamed kale with tomato, cucumber, olives, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese
- a portion of grilled sardines with a slice of lemon
- two slices of whole-grain toast with soft cheese, such as ricotta, queso fresco, or goat cheese
- add chopped blueberries or figs for sweetness
- 2 cups of mixed greens with tomato and cucumber
- a small portion of roasted chicken with a sprinkling of olive oil and lemon juice
- oven-roasted vegetables, such as:
- sweet potato
- toss in olive oil and heavy herbs before roasting
- 1 cup of whole-grain couscous
- whole-grain oats with cinnamon, dates, and maple syrup
- top with low-sugar fruits, such as raspberries or blackberries
- stewed zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and potato in a tomato and herb sauce
- 2 cups of greens, such as arugula or spinach, with tomato, olives, and olive oil
- a small portion of white fish
- leftover vegetable stew from lunch
As part of a Mediterranean diet, there are several snack choices.
Snacks to consider include:
- a small serving of nuts
- whole fruits, such as oranges, plums, and grapes
- dried fruits, including apricots and figs
- a small serving of yogurt
- hummus with celery, carrots, or other vegetables
- avocado on whole-grain toast
Many studies back up the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, because it gets a lot of coverage from the medical community.
The following are some of the advantages of a Mediterranean diet:
Taking steps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
A Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to research. For almost 5 years, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine compared two Mediterranean diets to a control diet.
More research is needed to assess whether lifestyle factors, such as increased physical activity and broader social support networks, play a role in the lower incidence of heart disease in Mediterranean countries compared to the US.
Improving the standard of sleep
Researchers looked at how the Mediterranean diet affects sleep in a 2018 study.
According to their findings, following a Mediterranean diet may help older adults sleep better. In younger people, the diet did not seem to have an effect on sleep quality.
People who are trying to lose weight can benefit from the Mediterranean diet.
People who were overweight or obese lose more weight on the Mediterranean diet than on a low-fat diet, according to the authors of a 2016 study. Participants on the Mediterranean diet had similar weight-loss results to those on other common weight-loss diets.
Adhering to a Mediterranean diet necessitates long-term dietary changes.
In general, a diet rich in natural foods, such as plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and healthful fats, should be the goal.
Anyone who doesn’t feel satisfied with their diet should consult a dietitian. They may suggest additional or different foods to help with satiety.