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Mediterranean Diet: A Full Guide

Mediterranean Diet: A Full Guide

As far back as the 1960s, researchers began to notice that the people in countries like Greece and Italy demonstrated remarkably good health. This led researchers to examine the diet of people who lived along the Mediterranean coast. They discovered that the diet of these people was directly connected to their good health and began to formulate what we now call the Mediterranean Diet. 

The Mediterranean diet is linked to better heart health and better health in general. What researchers have come to understand is that a diet similar to that of the people of the Mediterranean coast is a great way to be healthy and fit. 

Since these discoveries, the Mediterranean diet has garnered many followers. In addition to the scientific evidence, the anecdotal evidence of millions of people who have adopted the Mediterranean diet reveals that is in fact a healthy way to live. Combined with exercise and a healthy lifestyle, the Mediterranean diet has been proven to be effective. 

So what exactly is the Mediterranean diet? What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet? And what do we need to eat to adhere to the Mediterranean diet? This guide will give you the information you need to try the Mediterranean diet.

What is a Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a diet that was inspired by the common eating habits of the people of Spain, Greece, and Italy. It was discovered in the 1960s. The Mediterranean diet consists of high amounts of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables, and fish. 

The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a general reduction in what doctors refer to as all-cause mortality or death from any cause. Specifically, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to help reduce heart disease and improve cardiovascular health. 

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

The discovery of the Mediterranean diet initially centered on its relation to heart health. As researchers focused their attention on the Mediterranean diet, they discovered that it provides numerous health benefits. The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet include:  

Can reduce your risk of heart disease

A meta-analysis has shown that the Mediterranean diet is good for your heart. People who eat a diet that conforms to the Mediterranean diet saw a 30 percent decrease in heart disease and cardiovascular problems. 

Can reduce your risk of stroke

Since it was already known that the Mediterranean diet was good for cardiovascular health, it made sense to look into the benefits of potential strokes. Researchers found that the Mediterranean diet can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. This is particularly true of women. 

A study in the United Kingdom that examined groups who followed a conventional diet compared with another group who adhered to the Mediterranean diet found that women especially benefited from this diet. A strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of strokes in women by as much as 20 percent. 

 Can prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease

The health of the brain depends on a rich blood supply. The brain, as it turns out, needs to be fed quite literally. To supply the brain with nutrients and oxygen its needs to remain healthy, we need to eat the correct foods, and the Mediterranean diet appears to consist of a good supply of those foods. 

Recent studies show that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the mental and cognitive decline that comes with aging. This benefit even extends to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2016 study demonstrated that adherence to the Mediterranean diet substantially reduced symptoms of cognitive decline in older adults. This same study showed that the Mediterranean diet can also slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Helps with weight loss

The Mediterranean diet can help you lose weight in a safe and sustainable way. Keep in mind that the Mediterranean diet is something that produces results over the long term. It is not a way to lose weight quickly. 

The data from multiple studies show that a lifestyle that centers on the Mediterranean diet can lead to substantial weight loss. And the Mediterranean diet is better for weight loss than other comparable diets. What is more, people who lose weight while adhering to the Mediterranean diet tend to keep the weight off more easily than people who do other types of diets? 

The results show that the Mediterranean diet works well to help you lose weight. Since the Mediterranean diet is based on a lifestyle, adopting this way of living tends to help people stay fit and healthy well after they shed the weight. 

Can help manage type 2 diabetes

The Mediterranean diet has shown promise for managing and even preventing type 2 diabetes. One study tracked people with type 2 diabetes who took to the Mediterranean diet over a period of four years. The results of this study showed that people who adhered to the Mediterranean diet demonstrated fewer symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Other people in the study showed a 52 percent decrease in signs of the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Further studies have shown that adherence to the Mediterranean diet can control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It also seems to lead to a low-glycemic index and high protein levels which are conducive to controlling type 2 diabetes. 

Can benefit people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means it is a condition in which the body mistakenly attacks the joints. This causes painful swelling around the joints and can be debilitating. Doctors have long recommended taking omega-3 fatty acids to treat the cause and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Researchers now suggest that a diet rich in the types of foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids is even more helpful in fighting the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by foods like fish and olive oil that contain high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids. Again, a lifestyle that includes the Mediterranean diet shows promise for improving health. 

May protect against cancer

The Mediterranean diet may help prevent certain types of cancer. A series of studies published by the journal Nutrients found that the Mediterranean diet may help prevent breast and colorectal cancer. 

One sustained study discovered that the Mediterranean diet may provide a 62 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer. The benefits of the Mediterranean diet can be enhanced simply by supplementing with olive oil. 

May help fight depression

Early observations that led to the development of the Mediterranean diet already saw a correlation between this diet and the low incidence of depression. Now, researchers have found that the lack of processed meats, low sugar, and anti-inflammatory nature of the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces your risk of depression. 

The overall health benefits and the ability to help people lose weight contribute to the boost to mental health that can come with the Mediterranean diet. 

Type of Mediterranean Diets

The real appeal of the Mediterranean diet is that you can formulate your personal version of the diet from a pretty wide variety of foods. The things that are included in the Mediterranean diet include some great variation, and you are able to work out a version of the diet that suits your tastes, needs, and budget. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure you choose the correct foods to make up your diet. Things to eat on a Mediterranean diet include:


Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips.


Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches


Seeds, and nut butters: almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, peanut butter.


Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas.

Whole grains

Oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat bread, and pasta.

Fish and seafood

Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels.


Chicken, duck, turkey.


Chicken, quail, and duck eggs.


Cheese, yogurt, milk.

Herbs and spices

 garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper.

Healthy fats

Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil 

As long as you stay within this list, your version of a Mediterranean diet will achieve the desired benefits. 


Mediterranean Diet Tips

Like we said above, the Mediterranean diet is easy to adhere to if you stick with the foods listed. But, like any diet, it is easy to stray from the program if you do not plan. Here are some simple tips to stay on your Mediterranean diet:

  • Eat breakfast at home, take a full lunch break and celebrate dinner with a small glass of (natural) wine
  • Breakfast ideas: Natural greek yogurt with local honey, berries, and seeds, avocado whole-wheat toast with olive oil, homemade smoothie with organic fruits
  • Lunch ideas: Head to a salad bar and add avocado or wild fish as your protein, whole-grain veggie sandwich with hummus, whole-grain bowl (try quinoa or barley) with raw vegetables
  • Snack ideas: Go nuts! Try dried fruits, nuts, and seeds, snack on smoked salmon, eat raw fruit or vegetables and go for berries
  • Dinner ideas: Mediterranean pizza with whole wheat dough, vegetables, and cheese, grilled chicken with kale salad and grilled fish whole wheat tacos and avocado  
  • Drink lots of water, fresh juices (nothing added), get plenty of exercises and eat slowly with company

Mediterranean Diet FAQS

What is a Mediterranean Diet? The Mediterranean diet is a diet that was inspired by the common eating habits of the people of Spain, Greece, and Italy. It was discovered in the 1960s. The Mediterranean diet consists of high amounts of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables, and fish. 

What are some of the benefits of a Mediterranean diet? The Mediterranean diet can fight heart disease, reduce your risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. And the Mediterranean diet is a great way to lose weight. 

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One of the things that really sets the Mediterranean diet apart from fad diets is the fact that it is grounded in so much reliable science. The Mediterranean diet came into being from vast observation and study that goes back to the 1960s. Researchers came to see that the people who live along the Mediterranean sea tended to live longer and experience a lower incidence of chronic diseases that have become common throughout much of the world. The conclusion has been that it is the diet of this region that contributes to the health and longevity of the people. 

The Mediterranean diet is fairly easy to adhere to. The list above details the foods that make up the Mediterranean diet, and these are quite versatile. The Mediterranean diet is not one that forces you to give up good food to lose weight. You are able to eat a wide variety of delicious foods that are extremely healthy and satisfying. 

The Mediterranean diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. You may even be able to reduce your risk of depression with the Mediterranean diet. What is more, the Mediterranean diet is a great way to lose weight. The Mediterranean diet is one that offers massive health benefits while also providing the practical benefit of weight loss. 

Perhaps one of the best features of the Mediterranean diet is that it is really quite simple. You simply rely on the range of foods that make up the Mediterranean diet and from there you can just eat healthy and delicious food. With a little planning and a new way of looking at your grocery list, you can easily switch over to a Mediterranean diet.