Eating this way means you also have little room for processed fare. When you look at a plate, it should be bursting with color; traditional proteins like chicken may be more of a side dish compared with produce, which becomes the main event.
How Does the Mediterranean Diet Work Exactly?
What Are the Potential and Known Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?
Can the MIND Diet Prevent Dementia?
Can Following the Mediterranean Diet Help With Weight Loss?
As a traditional way of eating for many cultures worldwide, the Mediterranean diet wasn’t designed for weight loss. It just so happens that one of the healthiest diets around the globe is also good for keeping your weight down.
Learn More About the Health and Weight Loss Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
A Detailed Mediterranean Diet Food List to Follow: What to Eat and Avoid
When you’re looking to start to follow the Mediterranean diet, you’ll rely heavily on the following foods. While this is not a calorie-counting plan, we’ve included nutrition stats for your reference:
Per Tablespoon Serving 120 calories, 0 grams (g) protein, 13g fat, 2g saturated fat, 10g monounsaturated fat, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugar
Per 1 cup, Chopped Serving 32 calories, 1.5g protein, 0g fat, 7g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 5g sugar
Per 1 Small Fillet 272 calories, 44g protein, 9g fat, 0g carbohydrates, 0g fiber
Per 1 oz (14 Halves) Serving 185 calories, 4g protein, 18g fat, 2g saturated fat, 3g monounsaturated fat, 13g polyunsaturated fat, 4g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g sugar
Per ½ Cup Serving 160 calories, 10g protein, 2g fat, 26g carbohydrate, 5g fiber
Per 1 Cup Serving 5 calories, 0.5g protein, 0g fat, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugar
Per ½ Cup Serving (Arils) 72 calories, 1.5g protein, 1g fat, 16g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 12g sugar
Per ½ Cup Serving 115 calories, 9g protein, 0g fat, 20g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 2g sugar
Per ¼ Cup (Uncooked) Serving 200 calories, 7g protein. 1.5g fat, 37g carbs, 7g fiber, 0g sugar
Per 7 oz Container (Low-Fat Plain) 146 calories, 20g protein, 4g fat, 2g saturated fat, 1g monounsaturated fat, 0g polyunsaturated fat, 8g carbs, 0g fiber, 7g sugar
A 7-Day Sample Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan
To get an idea of what eating on a Mediterranean diet looks like, check out this week’s worth of sample meals:
Breakfast Greek yogurt topped with berries and a drizzle of honey
Snack Handful of almonds
Lunch Tuna on a bed of greens with a vinaigrette made with olive oil
Snack Small bowl of olives
Dinner Small chicken breast over a warm grain salad made with sautéed zucchini, tomato, and farro
Breakfast Whole-grain toast with a soft-boiled egg and a piece of fruit
Snack Handful of pistachios
Lunch Lentil salad with roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and an olive oil–based vinaigrette
Snack Hummus with dipping veggies
Dinner Salmon with quinoa and sautéed garlicky greens
Breakfast Whipped ricotta topped with walnuts and fruit
Snack Roasted chickpeas
Lunch Tabouli salad with whole grain pita and hummus
Snack Caprese skewers
Dinner Roasted chicken, gnocchi, and a large salad with vinaigrette
Breakfast Fruit with a couple of slices of Brie
Snack Cashews and dried fruit
Lunch Lentil soup with whole-grain roll
Snack Tasting plate with olives, a couple slices of cheese, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes
Dinner White fish cooked in olive oil and garlic, spiralized zucchini, and a sweet potato
Breakfast Omelet made with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and olives
Snack A couple of dates stuffed with almond butter
Lunch A salad topped with white beans, veggies, olives, and a small piece of chicken
Snack A peach and plain Greek yogurt
Dinner Grilled shrimp skewers with roasted Brussels sprouts
Breakfast Eggs scrambled with veggies and chives and topped with feta with a slice of whole-grain bread
Snack Greek yogurt
Lunch A quinoa bowl topped with sliced chicken, feta, and veggies
Snack Hummus with veggies
Dinner Grilled seafood, roasted fennel and broccoli, arugula salad, and quinoa
Breakfast Veggie frittata
Snack Handful of berries
Lunch A plate of smoked salmon, capers, lemon, whole-grain crackers, and raw veggies
Snack Mashed avocado with lemon and salt, with cucumbers for dipping
Dinner Pasta with red sauce and mussels
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Mediterranean Diet?
When you’re deciding whether a Mediterranean Diet is right for you, consider these pros and cons:
It’s easy to stick with. A diet works only if it’s doable. That means everyone in your family can eat it and you can eat in this style no matter where you go (to a restaurant for dinner, to a family event). With its flavors and variety of foods that don’t cut out any food group, this is one such eating plan. "It is an appealing diet that one can stay with for a lifetime,” Cohen says.
You can eat what you love. It’s evident that with such a variety of whole, fresh foods available to you as options, it’s easy to build meals based on the diet. And you don’t have to eliminate your favorites, either. They may require just some tweaks. For instance, rather than a sausage and pepperoni pizza, you’d choose one piled high with veggies. You can also fit in a lot of food into one meal. Filling up on fresh foods like fruit and vegetables will allow you to build volume into meals for fewer calories.
It’s low in saturated fat. You’re not going to feel hungry eating this way, because you can build in a variety of healthy fats. But by limiting large amounts of red or processed meats and relying heavily on monounsaturated fatty acids, like avocado, nuts, or olive oil, you’ll keep saturated fat levels low. These fats don't lead to high cholesterol the same way saturated fats do. Healthful sources of fat include olive oil, fish oils, and nut-based oils, Cohen explains.
The Mediterranean Diet May Cut the Risk of One Type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
You have to find time to cook. While you don’t have to spend hours in your kitchen, you will need to cook because the diet is all about working with delicious fresh food. You may have a learning curve as you build these skills.
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Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
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