In our previous articles, we have discussed the history of the Mediterranean diet, what it is, its relationship with weight loss, and its many health benefits. The present post looks at the Mediterranean diet food list – what to eat and what to avoid or limit.
These foods are key in ensuring that your goal of sticking to the diet is effortlessly achieved.
Allowed Mediterranean Diet Food List
1. Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables and fruits, just like their incorporation into a balanced diet, must be included in the Mediterranean diet food list. This is also not just limited to vegetarians. They are heartily encouraged.
The most recommended choices include spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, carrots, onions, eggplant, cauliflower, and more.
For fruits, pears, bananas, dates, apples, strawberries, peaches, melons, grapes, and figs, to name a few are highly permitted.
It is important, however, to remember that some fruits are high in calories and may add to one’s body weight or spike blood sugar levels. They should, therefore, be eaten in moderation.
2. Nuts and Seeds
Seeds and nuts are essential components of the Mediterranean diet. They act as a source of proteins and unsaturated fats.
These foods also contain omega-3 fatty acids and other essential fats such as olive oil. As such, you should ensure that your meal pattern includes walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and hazelnuts.
It is highly suggested that you avoid the salted types of nuts. Also worth remembering is that nuts and seeds can be high in calories. So, have it in moderation. Only a handful a day is enough.
3. Legumes and Some Tubers
All types of legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas, pulses, and peanuts are allowed in a Mediterranean diet. Always include them in your Mediterranean diet food list.
Although tubers may not be ideal for individuals looking to shed off some pounds, they also make the list of Mediterranean diet foods. They should, however, be done in moderation.
Some of the popular choices include yams, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and turnips.
4. Whole Grains
Since the diet aims at eliminating processed foods, it is important to always have whole grains as opposed to refined ones.
Whole grains are typically recommended for any healthy eating plan, which is why they must be included in your Mediterranean diet food list.
Incorporate whole grain pasta or bread, rye, barley, buckwheat, whole wheat, and oats as well as brown rice. Avoid processed white bread and pasta.
5. Seafood and Fish
Seafood, including fish, should make it to your Mediterranean diet food list. There is a ton of recipes you can try with these foods. Ensure that you have them at least weekly.
For health concerns, you don’t necessarily need to have too much of them. Eat salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, trout, mussels, shrimps, and crabs, among others.
6. Other Mediterranean Diet Food List
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, ducks, and more. Also, try eggs from chicken, quail, and ducks too.
- Dairy products: Should include low-fat yogurt and cheese, Greek yogurt to name a few.
- Herbs and spices: Basil, mint, garlic, pepper, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, and rosemary.
- Healthy Fats: Always use virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and canola oil in small amounts.
Mediterranean Diet Drinks
One of the healthiest and the undisputed drinks ever is water. When you are on a Mediterranean diet plan, water should always be the first drink that comes to mind.
Red wine, in moderation, is also appropriate. Also, tea and coffee are allowed. The exception includes sugar-sweetened beverages. This includes soda and fruit juices.
Most sugar-sweetened beverages are high in calories. This will not only add to your weight but will also leave you vulnerable to developing certain diseases.
7-Day Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan
If you don’t know where to get started on your Mediterranean diet, here is a 7-day meal plan to help you. Keep in mind that you can always choose to make adjustments to the kinds of foods and portions you want your plate to carry. It all depends on your needs and goals.
- Breakfast – A cup of low-fat Greek yogurt will do you good. It is the perfect way to get you started on a Monday. You can top it up with half a cup or a handful of berries – blueberries or strawberries – and an ounce of nuts. The yogurt gives you calcium, the berries contain antioxidants and the nuts extend the benefits of the omega 3 fatty acids.
- Lunch – A recipe of vegetables and fish should power your long afternoons. You can have three cups of any leafy vegetable of your choice with three ounces of fish, perhaps salmon or sardines. You can also include other types of vegetables on your salad and herbs and spices for a hearty and flavorful meal.
- Dinner – Enjoy 2/3 cup of whole wheat pasta, with spinach, some legumes, chopped anchovies, cheese, and season with lemon, parsley, and some red pepper. Remember, dinner should be lighter than your lunch, which is the heaviest meal of the day. If you have other recipe ideas, you can try them out.
- Breakfast – Oatmeal, raisins, and a dash of cinnamon. You can also choose to have quinoa and bananas with chopped nuts and some spices for flavoring.
- Lunch – A sandwich with fresh fish (sardine) and a vegetable salad or vegetable soup on the side. This is especially ideal for anyone who would rather have a turkey club sandwich with cheese.
- Dinner – A toasted pita with hummus and chopped tomatoes, pepper, some cucumbers and pitted kalamata olives and decorate with small amounts of feta cheese.
- Breakfast: – An omelet with veggies – with tomatoes and onions. Add a piece of fruit such as an apple or an orange and enjoy.
- Lunch – Fattoush; use ingredients such as red onions, tomatoes, feta, cucumbers, pepperoncini, and black olives with fresh herbs and spices – like the typical vegetables for a Greek-style salad.
- Dinner – Homemade tabbouleh with a Mediterranean shrimp skillet. Ensure to leave some for lunch the next day.
- Breakfast – 2 slices of whole wheat bread with pieces of avocado topped with a sunny-side-up egg. You can sprinkle feta into the bread to make it tastier.
- Lunch – Leftover tabbouleh from the night before with griddled vegetables and some feta.
- Dinner – Lamb meatballs with a yogurt sauce – the lemon cumin Greek yogurt sauce.
- Breakfast – Fruit compote made from three halves of apricot, prunes, and a few pear quarters, warmed and flavored with cinnamon – or mixed spices. Serve with Greek yogurt and sunflower seeds scattered on top.
- Lunch – Paprika chicken pitta with yogurt dressing. This is made from grilled chicken breast, olive oil, paprika, and pitta bread alongside grated carrots and spinach.
- Dinner – Vegan butternut alfredo with zoodles. This is made from whole wheat pasta, pesto, finely shredded parmesan, and sautéed tomatoes.
- Breakfast – Cooked quinoa with half a cup of prepared bruschetta and a soft-boiled egg.
- Lunch – Stuffed superfood sweet potato prepared from 2 cups of minestrone, whole-wheat breadstick, and a cup of fruit salad made from vegetables of your choice.
- Dinner – Minced lamb and feta burger with crushed garlic, chopped fresh rosemary, and oregano. Serve with salad and salsa from tomatoes, black pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and fresh parsley.
- Breakfast – Omelet with vegetable salad and enhanced with olives.
- Lunch – Leftover minced lamb and feet burger from the night before.
- Dinner – Grilled chicken, with vegetables and a potato. Use fruit of your choice as dessert.
The above is a simple example of a Mediterranean diet meal plan. There are almost limitless combinations you can make from a wide range of components from your Mediterranean diet food list.
You can switch them at will or add any of your favorites. In a Mediterranean diet, you don’t necessarily need to count your calories, unless you know you can overeat.
During the day, you can have mid-morning or afternoon snacks, or desserts after dinner for that matter. Nevertheless, the ingredients must fall within your Mediterranean diet food list.
Preparing a 7-day meal plan for a Mediterranean diet cannot be achieved if you don’t already have the necessary ingredients.
Well, it is now time to clean all the junk ingredients and set up your pantry with fresh produce. Clear all the processed foods from the pantry and the refrigerator and stock the two with the best Mediterranean diet foods.
From seafood to herbs and spices to nuts, here is an ideal Mediterranean diet food list to hunt for in the market:
Mediterranean Diet Vegetable Ideas
- Spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, arugula
- Leeks, onions, shallots, garlic
- Radishes, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes
Mediterranean Diet Fruit Choices
- Pears, grapes, bananas, peaches, oranges, berries (blueberries, strawberries), pomegranates
- Figs, apricots, dates
- Olives, avocados, tomatoes
- Mediterranean Diet Protein Ideas
- Freshly caught fish: Salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, trout, mussels, mackerel, and more
- Oysters, shrimp, shellfish, crabs, and lobsters to name a few
- Poultry eggs
- Lean meat from poultry – chicken, quails, turkey, duck, and bison
Mediterranean Diet Whole Grains
- Quinoa, oats, farro
- Barley, rye, brown rice, wheat
- Wheat Berries
Mediterranean Nuts and Seeds
- Almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts
- Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds
Mediterranean Diet Dairy
- Greek yogurt
- Ricotta, feta and goat cheese, halloumi, Parmigiano-Reggiano
Mediterranean Diet Fats
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Canola oil
- Safflower oil
Mediterranean Diet Legumes
- Beans, cannellini beans, fava beans, peas, split peas, chickpeas,
Mediterranean Diet Condiments, Herbs, and Spices
- Garlic, basil, paprika, cinnamon, sea salt
- Tahini, harissa, fig spread
- Hummus, za’atar, tapenade, pesto
- Cumin, turmeric, coriander
- Saffron threads
The Mediterranean diet is controversial and it varies from one country to another. The trick is to include as many whole foods and fresh farm produces in your weekly plans. It also involves regular physical exercises, particularly if you want it to work for achieving water weight loss.