Disclaimer: It’s important to speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian before making any drastic changes to your diet.
While new fad diets seem to pop up every week, one way of eating has stood the test of time: the Mediterranean Diet.
A delicious diet rich in grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, it’s thought to have many benefits – from reducing the risk of heart disease and Parkinson’s disease to protecting against Type 2 diabetes, dementia, and even cancer.
As with all areas of nutrition science, more research needs to be done. But, the evidence is compelling enough that many experts recommend adopting the Mediterranean Diet as a preventative measure against chronic diseases.
best? Let’s take a closer look.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet is based on traditional foods found in regions around the Mediterranean Sea, including:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
- A moderate amount of fish, poultry, and dairy products
- Little to no red meat
A traditional Mediterranean diet is naturally low in salt, saturated fats, and processed foods. It’s high in healthy fats (such as Omega 3s from fish), antioxidants, and essential vitamins.
In a review of popular diets by the Ministry of Health, the Mediterranean Diet came out on top. The ministry recommends this way of eating, stating it comes with many benefits and no cons.
What are the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?
Researchers are still trying to understand exactly how diet influences health. Nutrition science is evolving all the time. It can be challenging to find conclusive evidence given the many variations in people’s diets.
However, the Mediterranean Diet has been studied for over 20 years. The research points to strong links between the Mediterranean Diet and positive health outcomes such as:
- Reduced risk of dementia, heart disease, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, and Type 2 Diabetes
- Help with weight maintenance
- Supporting healthy ageing
As the diet is rich in fresh, whole foods, many people who follow it also report feeling more energised.
Mediterranean Diet meal ideas
Fruits and vegetables are the heroes of the plate on a Mediterranean Diet. At each meal, aim for an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, a good portion of legumes or whole grains, and a sparing amount of healthy fats from fish, olive oil, or nuts. You may also like to include some eggs and dairy products every now and then.
If you aim to eat a rainbow of colours and enjoy foods in their most unprocessed form, you can’t go too far wrong
Here are some meal ideas to spark inspiration.
Breakfast ideas on the Mediterranean Diet
- Whole grain toast with nut butter and banana
- Plain greek yoghurt topped with berries and seeds
- Porridge with stewed fruits
- Veggie-packed omelette with a side of leafy greens
- Scrambled eggs with sauteed spinach and tomatoes
- Lightly sauteed mushrooms on wholegrain toast
- Smoothie with a base of milk, frozen berries, and leafy greens
- Low-GI granola with fruit salad
Lunch ideas on the Mediterranean Diet
- Wholegrain wrap with roast vegetables, leafy greens, and hummus
- Wellness bowl with brown rice, roast vegetables, edamame beans, and avocado
- Lentil and vegetable salad with salmon, chicken, or boiled eggs
- Chickpea curry with brown rice and roast eggplant
- Avocado and tomato on whole grain toast
- Quinoa salad with tuna, tomatoes, leafy greens, and olives
- Grilled salmon and vegetables
- Tuna salad with white beans
Dinner ideas on the Mediterranean Diet
- Pan-fried fish and vegetables
- Roast sweet potatoes stuffed with lentils, and a side salad
- Whole grain pasta with tomatoes, olives, artichokes, and chicken
- Cauliflower rice with grilled chicken or fish
- Vegetable or lentil soup with whole grain bread
- Prawns with quinoa, leafy greens, and charred vegetables
- Oven-cooked salmon with seasonal vegetables and potatoes
- Roast eggplant with legumes and feta
Other diets similar to the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is thought to be optimal for good health because it’s high in whole foods, low in many animal products, and excludes processed foods. Other diets that follow similar principles include vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarian, and vegan diets.
When in doubt, try to eat mostly plants, whole grains, legumes, fish, eggs, and healthy fats, while keeping processed foods and other animal products to a minimum.