Nutrition

What Is The Mediterranean Diet? | Food List & 1-Day Meal Plan

The Mediterranean diet has a great reputation and for very good reason. This type of diet originates from the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea including Portugal, France, Italy, Spain and Greece. Over the last few years, it has really taken the spotlight as its high healthy fat content and emphasis on oily fish provides a multitude of health benefits – from a healthy heart to shiny hair and glowing skin. 

Our bodies need healthy fats and in today’s society where emphasis is often put on convenience and not health, many people are deficient in these healthy fats. 

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The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Heart Health

Following the Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart-related health problems.1 This is likely due to the combination of heart healthy fats, fibre, and limited amounts of animal protein in the diet. 

Brain Health

Research has also shown a link between the Mediterranean diet and cognitive health, protecting connectivity in tissues that slow age-related brain decline.2

Weight loss

Following the Mediterranean style diet showed the same weight loss as a low carb diet, and even greater weight loss than a traditional low fat diet plan.3

Prevent damage from inflammation and free radical damage

Between heart healthy fatty acids, high fibre, and antioxidants, the nutrients in the Mediterranean diet can protect against harmful cell damage.5

 

The Mediterranean Diet Foods

Although the dishes vary in different countries that follow this approach to eating, they all include an abundance of plant-based foods such as; 

  • Fruits and vegetables 
  • Legumes 
  • Wholegrains 
  • Healthy fats are also incorporated into the diet, such as; 
  • Olive oil instead of butter 
  • Nuts 
  • Fish

These fit well into the healthy eating recommendations from the government as the Mediterranean diet is packed with nutrients that promote great health and balance. 

 

Foods to Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet

Refined grains

  • White bread 
  • White rice 
  • Pasta

Try to choose high fibre, low GI wholegrains instead.

 

Highly processed sugars and baked goods

  • Cookies 
  • Cakes 
  • Sweetened drinks

While all foods can be included in small amounts, these sweet foods have a negative impact on heart health and blood sugar. Try to choose fruit and red wine instead. 

 

Saturated fats

  • Butter 
  • fatty meats (like beef and pork)  
  • Fried foods 

The animal-based fats that are typically solid at room temperature are bad for heart health.

 

One-day Mediterranean Meal Plan

Breakfast – Overnight oats with omega seed mix and berries

Ingredients 

  • 40g Rolled oats 
  • 10g Organic chia seeds 
  • 10g Sugar-free syrup Maple flavour 
  • 80g Raspberries 
  • 120ml Milk 
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Method 

  1. Place all the ingredients in a Mason jar and mix well making sure the top is well covered. 
  2. If your jar lid has holes in it, cover the jar with Clingfilm. 
  3. When it is mixed well, leave in the fridge for a few hours to allow it to thicken. 

Macros 

  • Calories: 262 
  • Carbs: 41g 
  • Protein: 11g 
  • Fat: 6g 

Lunch – Spinach Frittata with side salad

Ingredients 

  • 120g High Protein Low-fat Cheese (grated) 
  • 300g Mushrooms 
  • 15ml Olive oil 
  • 150g Onions 
  • 500g Spinach 
  • 20g Parmesan cheese 
  • 6 Whole eggs

Method 

  1. Grease a pan with olive oil including the sides of the pan. Take a tablespoon of oil and heat it in the pan, then add the mushrooms and sauté them for around five minutes so that they are soft. 
  2. Add some more oil then add the onions and the spinach to the pan. While these are cooking, mix all the eggs together in a bowl. 
  3. Put some cheese in the pan on top of the spinach and pour the egg mixture on top of this. Don’t be afraid to move the vegetables around a bit so that the egg gets into all the nooks and crannies of the pan to hold the frittata together! 
  4. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat. Cook for a further 15 minutes, then remove the lid and place the pan under a grill to finish cooking the eggs fully at the top. You can sprinkle extra cheese on if you like, just make sure you add this into the macros. This will take a further 6 minutes before you can remove from the grill. 
  5. Allow it to cool for a few minutes then cut into six slices. Serve with a side salad.

Macros per slice 

  • Cal: 178 
  • Carbs: 6.5g 
  • Protein: 17g 
  • Fat: 13g 

Dinner – Salmon with roast vegetables and quinoa

Ingredients 

  • Lemon 
  • Salmon fillet (125 g) 
  • 100g Carrots chopped into sticks 
  • 200g Sweet potato cubed 
  • 20ml Olive oil 
  • 100g Quinoa 
  • Stock cube 
  • Herbs

Method 

  1. Wrap a salmon fillet sprinkled with lemon juice and garnished with some lemon slices in tinfoil, prepare the quinoa by rinsing the seeds well, before setting them aside in a bowl. 
  2. Boil some water and dissolve a stock cube. Use this mixture to cook the quinoa for around 30 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. 
  3. Preheat an oven to 180. Toss the vegetables in olive oil mixed with herbs. Place in the oven for 20 minutes and cover with tinfoil to avoid them going too brown. 
  4. After 20 minutes add the salmon in foil to the oven and remove the foil from the vegetables. Bake everything for a further 20 minutes. Check the salmon is cooked through by cutting in half and remove and serve with quinoa if it is done. 
  5. 100g of raw quinoa tends to equal nearly 350g-400g of cooked quinoa. You can reduce this portion if you like and keep any leftovers in the fridge for the next day.

Macros  

(with 180g cooked & measured quinoa) – feel free to reduce/split in half for lunch to reduce macros! 

  • Calories: 840 
  • Carbs: 84g 
  • Protein: 36g 
  • Fat: 40g 

Mediterranean Snack Ideas

High-Protein Fruity ’n’ Crunchy Yoghurt

Ingredients

  • 200g Greek yoghurt 
  • 100g Peach slices 
  • 25g Almonds 

Method 

  1. Simply add the almonds and peaches to the Greek yoghurt and serve. 

Macros

  • Cal: 298 
  • Carbs: 18g 
  • Protein: 25g 
  • Fat: 14g 

Homemade Hummus & Carrot sticks

Ingredients

  • 3 Cloves garlic 
  • 400g Chickpeas 
  • 80ml Lemon juice 
  • 60ml Olive oil 
  • Pinch pepper 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 10g cumin 

Method 

  1. Remove the skin from the garlic and place in a blender with all the other ingredients. 
  2. Blend until the desired texture is reached and serve with carrot sticks! 
  3. Keep any leftover covered in a fridge, it will last about two days.

Macros per serving 

(Serves 4) 

  • Calories: 241 
  • Carbs: 16g 
  • Protein: 7g 
  • Fat: 16.5g 

 

Take Home Message

The Mediterranean style eating plan is unique in the wide range of benefits that it offers without being overly restrictive. Whether you want to limit junk food, follow a more plant based diet, lose weight, or improve your heart health – all of these can be achieved with a Mediterranean diet. The flexibility and lack of complete elimination of food groups makes this diet not only achievable, but sustainable.  

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


  1. Martínez-González, M. A., Salas-Salvadó, J., Estruch, R., Corella, D., Fitó, M., Ros, E., & Predimed Investigators. (2015). Benefits of the Mediterranean diet: insights from the PREDIMED study. Progress in cardiovascular diseases58(1), 50-60. 
  2. Pelletier, A., Barul, C., Féart, C., Helmer, C., Bernard, C., Periot, O., … & Samieri, C. (2015). Mediterranean diet and preserved brain structural connectivity in older subjects. Alzheimer’s & Dementia11(9), 1023-1031. 
  3. Mancini, J. G., Filion, K. B., Atallah, R., & Eisenberg, M. J. (2016). Systematic review of the Mediterranean diet for long-term weight loss. The American journal of medicine129(4), 407-415. 
  4. Schwingshackl, L., Missbach, B., König, J., & Hoffmann, G. (2015). Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Public health nutrition18(7), 1292-1299. 
  5. Pitsavos, C., Panagiotakos, D. B., Tzima, N., Chrysohoou, C., Economou, M., Zampelas, A., & Stefanadis, C. (2005). Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with total antioxidant capacity in healthy adults: the ATTICA study–. The American journal of clinical nutrition82(3), 694-699. 


Claire Muszalski

Claire Muszalski

Registered Dietitian

Claire is a Registered Dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach through the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.

Talking and writing about food and fitness is at the heart of Claire’s ethos as she loves to use her experience to help others meet their health and wellness goals.

Claire is also a certified indoor cycling instructor and loves the mental and physical boost she gets from regular runs and yoga classes. When she’s not keeping fit herself, she’s cheering on her hometown’s sports teams in Pittsburgh, or cooking for her family in the kitchen.

Find out more about Claire’s experience here.


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