The Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular diets. And there’s a reason: The diet helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and age-related memory loss.
Unlike other popular diets, the Mediterranean diet does not include strict rules such as counting calories and controlling macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Instead, followers consume foods that are part of the traditional diet of people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. These foods include plenty of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and fish.
If this sounds like the style of eating you enjoy, here’s an overview of the foods that make up the majority of the Mediterranean diet and what foods to limit.
vegetables and fruits
People following the Mediterranean diet eat four or more servings of vegetables and three or more servings of fruit a day. Therefore, production is an essential component.
Specifically, only 10% of US adults eat 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. Only 12.3% ate one and a half to two cups of fruit
The vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in the United States.
In addition, fruits and vegetables improve your mental health. A 2020 study in the journal Nutrients found that adults who ate at least five servings of the product daily reported improved sleep, mood, optimism, self-esteem, and happiness. Researchers also noted a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression
Although this sounds great, eating that much produce in 24 hours can be really difficult.
So when deciding what to eat for meals and snacks, start with the produce. Leafy green vegetables and fruits can be whipped up as breakfast cereal. Swap a lunch sandwich for a salad, and replace half of your dinner pasta with spiralized zucchini or some other vegetable. Snack on fruits, nuts, or hummus vegetables throughout the day.
People living in the Mediterranean eat 3 to 4 servings of whole grains a day, with one serving equaling 1/2 cup of cooked cereal or a slice of bread.
Some of the whole grains found in the Mediterranean diet include: 4
A 2018 review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a higher intake of whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and death.5 Yet in the United States, people get less than 16% of their daily intake of whole grains. . whole grains 6
Try upgrading refined grains to whole grains. Swap breakfast for a bowl of oatmeal, choose brown rice for dinner over white rice or replace a white bread sandwich with a cooked quinoa salad at lunch.
18 Health Benefits of Whole Grains
Pulses include all types of beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas. In the Mediterranean diet, pulses are eaten more than three times a week.
And there’s good reason: A 2021 study published in the journal Nutrients found that people who ate pulses had more fiber, folate, and magnesium than those who ate less.
People who ate 2.5 ounces, or about 1/2 cup, of cooked peas or other legumes, had more potassium, zinc, iron, choline, and less fat.
Some examples of pulses in the Mediterranean diet include: 8
If you’re wondering how to get more pulses into your diet, replace them with meat. For example, try lentil soup instead of beef soup. Or snack on some beef bacon-fried chickpeas.
In the Mediterranean region, olive oil—about four tablespoons of olive oil per day—is a staple in many people’s diets. Fat may get a bad rap, but the healthy fats found in olive oil are essential to our health.
A 2019 report in the journal Nutrients noted that “extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) should be the fat of choice for human health.”
why? That’s because consuming EVOO can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, autoimmune disease, and inflammatory conditions like ulcerative colitis.
Other healthy Mediterranean fats include avocados (technically a fruit but full of good fats), nuts, and seeds. In the Mediterranean diet, nuts or seeds should be eaten at least three times a week. For reference, a serving size would be 1/4 cup of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut or seed butter.
Some are eaten in the Mediterranean diet