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Mediterranean Diet: Basics and Recipes
Mediterranean Diet: Basics and Recipes

Mediterranean Diet: Basics and Recipes

Whether you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, trying to eat more healthfully in general or just curiously looking at diet trends, the Mediterranean diet may appeal to you. For four years in a row, U.S. News and World Report has named the Mediterranean diet the best overall diet, based on an expert panel of nutritionists. So what is the Mediterranean diet? Read on to find out more about this selection of foods, and get recipes to try it out for yourself.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet refers to the way people ate in the Mediterranean region, like Greece, Spain and Italy, during the 1960s. Researchers at that time found that people in the region experienced fewer deaths from coronary heart disease than people in the U.S. and northern Europe. Since the ‘60s, researchers have also found that the Mediterranean diet is associated with fewer risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In fact, today the American Heart Association recommends a Mediterranean-style diet for a healthy dietary pattern.

To follow the Mediterranean diet, you will consider the following factors:

  • Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats each day
  • Eating fish, poultry, beans and eggs on a weekly basis
  • Consuming moderate amounts of dairy
  • Consuming a limited amount of red meat

The Mediterranean diet also considers a lower-stress way of life, including enjoying meals with other people, drinking a glass of red wine on occasion and participating in a physically active lifestyle. Always drink responsibly.

So what does the Mediterranean diet look like in practice? Most importantly, the above guidelines are the only guidelines; that is, no two people’s diets will look the same as people have different preferences within the categories of fruit, veggies, fish, poultry, etc. Additionally, each country around the Mediterranean Sea has different cuisines. With that being said, keep fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats at the top of your priorities, and fill in the gaps here and there with the other items.

Ideas for the Mediterranean Diet

Consider some of the following examples of Mediterranean foods when stocking your fridge and pantry:

  • Fruit: Apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, dates
  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, kale, carrots, broccoli
  • Nuts and seeds: Pistachios, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Legumes: Lentils and beans
  • Starchy vegetables: White potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash
  • Whole grains: rice, whole-grain pasta, barley, farro
  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, shrimp, trout, tuna, mackerel, sardines
  • Poultry: Turkey, chicken, duck
  • Eggs: Chicken, duck, quail
  • Dairy: Greek yogurt, yogurt, cheese
  • Healthy fats: Nuts, olive oil, avocado oil, olives, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel

Recipes that Incorporate Mediterranean Diet Principles

Check out some of these recipes that incorporate the delicious foods of the Mediterranean:

  • Mediterranean Chicken. This recipe incorporates some of the most important elements of a Mediterranean diet: brown rice (whole grain), tomatoes and other veggies (vegetables) and green olives (healthy fat). Plus it has bold flavors from the oregano, onion and garlic!
  • Chickpea and Feta Flatbread. Try this recipe for a vegetarian option. With naan, chickpeas, feta, lime zest, Greek vinaigrette and cilantro, you’ll want to enjoy this Mediterranean-style recipe every day.
  • Duck Breast Recipe. Choose this Duck Breast Recipe as the focal point of your dinner. It works great with the whole grain and veggie side dishes of your choice, like steamed broccoli, a mixed green salad and brown rice.
  • Overnight Oatmeal with Yogurt and Fruit. This yogurt recipe is reminiscent of a parfait, with Greek-style yogurt, oats and fresh fruit. It’s got all the delicious ingredients you and your family want during breakfast or snack time.
  • Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Recipe. This big salad serves eight, so it’s great for your gatherings or to have leftovers. Cook your quinoa in chicken broth for added flavor.
  • Farro, Arugula and Pistachio Salad. Entice your taste buds with this incredible salad! The combination of spicy arugula, tender farro, sweet cherry tomatoes and more combine perfectly with crunchy pistachios, fresh thyme and a sweet homemade dressing.

What to Drink on the Mediterranean Diet

Because you want to avoid consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, go for drinking lots of water. Coffee and tea are acceptable as well. In moderation, enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. Always drink responsibly.

No matter what approach you take to your diet, relish in the spice of life! Spend time with your loved ones and take advantage of treats in moderation while you enjoy lots of wholesome foods on the Mediterranean diet.

Learn about other special diets like the vegan diet, and find ideas for the gluten-aware and how to eat more fruits and veggies.

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