"This diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, nuts and legumes, and olive oil," says Nancy L. Cohen, PhD, RD, a professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. On this plan, you’ll limit or avoid red meat, sugary foods, and dairy (though small amounts like yogurt and cheese are included).
Eating this way means you also have little room for processed fare. When you look at a plate, it should be bursting with color; traditional proteins like chicken may be more of a side dish compared with produce, which becomes the main event.
One thing you’ll find people love about the Mediterranean diet is the allowance of low to moderate amounts of red wine. “Moderate” means 5 ounces (oz) or less each day (that’s around one glass). It’s worth noting, though, that a daily glass of wine is not mandatory on this eating plan, and if you don’t already drink, this allowance isn’t a directive to start.
One-Pan Baked Oatmeal
One-Pan Baked Oatmeal is one of the most delicious social media food trends to date — and it's super easy to make! This oatmeal technique was made viral by the likes of @feelgoodfoodie and @smartgusto — and you'll be so glad it found its way into your life.
CALORIES PER SERVING
PREP TIME5 min
COOK TIME25 min
TOTAL TIME30 min
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large baking dish, mash two ripe bananas. Next, add oats, milk, and chia seeds. Stir to combine.
Add berries, walnuts, and lemon zest on top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed.
Remove from oven, and drizzle on some maple syrup to your liking. Slice into individual pieces and enjoy!
Amount per serving
Common Questions & Answers
How Does the Mediterranean Diet Work?
Potential Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is famous for its touted health benefits, which may be attributed to its high produce content.
Here’s a snapshot of some possible Mediterranean diet health benefits.
A Healthier Heart
A Reduced Risk for Certain Cancers
A Sunnier Mood and a Lower Risk of Depression
A Lower Risk of Neurodegenerative Diseases
A Reduced Type 2 Diabetes Risk and Better Diabetes Management
Fewer Osteoarthritis Complications
Learn More About Health Benefits Associated With the Mediterranean Diet
Can the Mediterranean Diet Lead to Weight Loss?
As a traditional way of eating for many cultures worldwide, the Mediterranean diet wasn’t designed for weight loss. It just so happens that one of the healthiest diets around the globe is also good for keeping your weight down.
It’s not a slam dunk, researchers note, and instead depends on how you eat. Portion sizes and fat amounts matter even in healthy diets like the Mediterranean.
A Detailed Mediterranean Diet Food List
On the Mediterranean diet, you’ll rely heavily on the following foods and limit those that are processed. Examples of processed foods include cold cuts and sausage (and other processed meats), salty packaged snacks like potato chips and crackers, and prepared sweets like cookies, cake, and candy.
You may choose to drink a little red wine and eat some dark chocolate.
While you don’t have to count calories on the Mediterranean diet, we’ve included nutrition information for the following foods for your reference.
Benefits They pack lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers, like prostate and breast. Other components in tomatoes may help reduce the risk of blood clots, thereby protecting against cardiovascular disease, according to a March 2019 review in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
Learn More About What to Eat and Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet
A 7-Day Sample Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan
To get an idea of what eating on a Mediterranean diet looks like, check out this sample week of meals, including snack ideas.
Breakfast Greek yogurt topped with berries and a drizzle of honey
Snack Handful of almonds
Lunch Tuna on a bed of greens with a vinaigrette made with olive oil
Snack Small bowl of olives
Dinner Small chicken breast over a warm grain salad made with sautéed zucchini, tomato, and farro
Breakfast Whole-grain toast with a soft-boiled egg and a piece of fruit
Snack Handful of pistachios
Lunch Lentil salad with roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and an olive oil–based vinaigrette
Snack Hummus with dipping veggies
Dinner Salmon with quinoa and sautéed garlicky greens
Breakfast Whipped ricotta topped with walnuts and fruit
Snack Roasted chickpeas
Lunch Tabouli salad with whole-grain pita and hummus
Snack Caprese skewers
Dinner Roasted chicken, gnocchi, and a large salad with vinaigrette
Breakfast Fruit with a couple of slices of brie
Snack Cashews and dried fruit
Lunch Lentil soup with whole-grain roll
Snack Tasting plate with olives, a couple slices of cheese, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes
Dinner Whitefish cooked in olive oil and garlic, spiralized zucchini, and a sweet potato
Breakfast Omelet made with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and olives
Snack A couple of dates stuffed with almond butter
Lunch A salad topped with white beans, veggies, olives, and a small piece of chicken
Snack A peach and plain Greek yogurt
Dinner Grilled shrimp skewers with roasted Brussels sprouts
Breakfast Eggs scrambled with veggies and chives and topped with feta with a slice of whole-grain bread
Snack Greek yogurt
Lunch A quinoa bowl topped with sliced chicken, feta, and veggies
Snack Hummus with veggies
Dinner Grilled seafood, roasted fennel and broccoli, arugula salad, and quinoa
Breakfast Veggie frittata
Snack Handful of berries
Lunch A plate of smoked salmon, capers, lemon, whole-grain crackers, and raw veggies
Snack Mashed avocado with lemon and salt, with cucumbers for dipping
Dinner Pasta with red sauce and mussels
4 Tips for Dining Out on the Mediterranean Diet
Heading to a restaurant? Eat the Mediterranean way — and feel satisfied with these tips.
1. Prioritize Vegetables
2. Order the Fish
3. Limit Alcohol
4. Nosh on Fruit for Dessert
5 Beginner Tips to Keep in Mind on the Mediterranean Diet
A registered dietitian-nutritionist, whom you can find at Eatright.org, can help you start and stick with the Mediterranean diet, but these tips may also be helpful.
1. Opt for Healthy Fat Sources, and Don’t Go Overboard
Even with healthy fat, your total fat consumption could be greater than the daily recommended amount if you aren't careful. Aim to get 20 to 35 percent of your total daily caloric intake from fat, and for saturated fats to represent less than 10 percent of your total caloric intake, advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
2. Don’t Skimp on Calcium
3. Carve Out Time in Your Schedule to Cook
While you don’t have to spend hours in your kitchen, you will need to cook, because the diet is all about working with delicious fresh food. There may be a learning curve as you build these skills.
4. Edit Your Favorite Recipes to Make Them Mediterranean Diet Friendly
It’s evident that with such a variety of whole, fresh foods on the table, it’s easy to build meals with this diet. And you don’t have to eliminate your favorites — they may just require some tweaks. For instance, rather than a sausage and pepperoni pizza, you’d choose one piled high with veggies. You can also fit a lot of different foods into one meal. Filling up on fresh fruit and vegetables will allow you to build volume into meals for fewer calories.
5. Don’t Go Overboard on Alcohol
Resources We Love: Mediterranean Diet
Favorite Organization for Mediterranean Diet Info
This food and nutrition nonprofit serves up great resources for anyone looking to take a deeper dive into the Mediterranean diet. You’ll find print and e-books, such as their 4 Week Menu Plan, a weekly newsletter, and a printable brochure to get started on the diet. The organization also has a Health Studies page, featuring research on the Mediterranean diet’s health benefits.
Favorite Books on the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners: Meal Plans, Expert Guidance, and 100 Recipes to Get You Started
Many cookbooks are dedicated to the Mediterranean diet, but this one stands out because it’s written by the registered dietitian-nutritionist Elena Paravantes, creator of Olivetomato.com. This book not only features need-to-know info on the diet (such as the principles of authentic Mediterranean meal and menu creation) but provides a bevy of mouthwatering recipes that are simple and easy to make, such as Venetian-Style Pasta e Fagioli, Tomato Rice, and Traditional Chicken Cacciatore.
Mediterranean Diet on a Budget: Recipes, Meal Plans, and Tips to Eat Healthfully for as Little as $50 a Week
When you’re starting a new way of eating — and hoping to stick to it for life — it needs to fit within your budget or it won’t work long-term. That’s why Mediterranean Diet on a Budget, by Emily Cooper, RD, is a game-changing book. Cooper admits there are many recipes that require time, a lot of effort, and cost a lot to prepare with specialty ingredients, but the Mediterranean diet doesn’t have to be that way. Her book not only covers tips for eating this way for less, but shares 75 recipes for dishes such as Creamy Banana Date Shake, Pistachio Nice Cream, Garlic Parmesan Smashed Brussels Sprouts, Citrus Poached Cod, and more.
Favorite Blog on the Mediterranean Diet
Creator Suzy Karadsheh whips up modern Mediterranean recipes that span the Mediterranean and focus on seasonal, whole foods that can be enjoyed with people. You’ll find a plethora of yummy recipes to make tonight — or at your next gathering — from homemade doner kebabs to grilled shrimp with roasted garlic herb sauce, and Mediterranean tuna salad. Her book The Mediterranean Dish is also available for preorder, out September 2022.
Favorite App for Following the Mediterranean Diet
This app, which is available on the App Store and Google Play, allows you to track food, calories, and macronutrients in order to stay in step with your goals. Even better: It also features specific diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, with meal plans, access to a recipe library, and nutrition information and meal ratings. Though the app is free, the Mediterranean diet and meal plan requires subscribing to the Premium membership.
A diet only works if it’s doable. That means you and everyone in your family can eat in this style no matter where you go (to a restaurant for dinner, to a family event). With its flavors and variety of foods that don’t cut out any food group, the Mediterranean diet is one such eating plan.
What’s more, there are numerous health benefits — from dementia, heart disease, and cancer prevention to potential weight loss and protection from diabetes complications.
"It is an appealing diet that one can stay with for a lifetime,” Cohen says.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
- Mediterranean Diet for Heart Health. Mayo Clinic. July 2021.
- Buettner D, Skemp S. Blue Zones: Lessons From the World's Longest Lived. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. September–October 2016.
- Mediterranean Diet. U.S. News & World Report. January 2022.
- Georgoulis M, Kontogianni MD, Yiannakouris N. Mediterranean Diet and Diabetes: Prevention and Treatment. Nutrients. April 2014.
- Antioxidants: In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. November 2013.
- Mancini JG, Filion KB, Atallah R. Systematic Review of the Mediterranean Diet for Long-Term Weight Loss. American Journal of Medicine. April 2016.
- Olive Oil. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Zong G, Li Y, Sampson L. Monounsaturated Fats From Plant and Animal Sources in Relation to Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Among U.S. Men and Women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. March 2018.
- Tomatoes, Red, Ripe, Raw, Year Round Average. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Fish, Salmon, Pink, Cooked, Dry Heat. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. American Heart Association.
- Nuts, Walnuts, English. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Holscher HD, Gutterman HM, Swanson KS. Walnut Consumption Alters the Gastrointestinal Microbiota, Microbially Derived Secondary Bile Acids, and Health Markers in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Nutrition. May 2018.
- Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans, Bengal Gram), Mature Seeds, Canned, Drained, Rinsed in Tap Water. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Mudryj AN, Yu N, Aukema HM. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Pulses. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. November 2014.
- Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet. Mayo Clinic. November 16, 2018.
- Arugula, Raw. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Morris MC, Tangney CC, Wang Y. MIND Diet Associated With Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. September 2015.
- Pomegranates, Raw. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Zarfeshany A, Asgary S, Javanmard SH. Potent Health Effects of Pomegranate. Advanced Biomedical Research. March 2014.
- Lentils, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, Without Salt. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Moravek D, Duncan AM, VanderSluis LB. Carbohydrate Replacement of Rice or Potato With Lentils Reduces the Postprandial Glycemic Response in Healthy Adults in an Acute, Randomized, Crossover Trial. Journal of Nutrition April 2018.
- Organic Farro. Bob's Red Mill.
- What Are the Health Benefits? Oldways Whole Grains Council.
- Yogurt, Greek, Plain, Lowfat. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019.
- Traditional Med Diet. Oldways.
- Rosato V, Guercio V, Bosetti C. Mediterranean Diet and Colorectal Cancer Risk: A Pooled Analysis of Three Italian Case-Control Studies. British Journal of Cancer. September 2016.
- Castello A, Boldo E, Amiano P. Mediterranean Dietary Pattern Is Associated With Low Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer: MCC-Spain Study. Journal of Urology. February 2018.
- Giraldi L, Panic N, Cadoni G. Association Between Mediterranean Diet and Head and Neck Cancer: Results of a Large Case-Control Study in Italy. European Journal of Cancer Prevention. September 2017.
- Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium. U.S. Department of Agriculture. January 2016.
- Alcohol Use and Cancer. American Cancer Society. June 2020.
- The Truth About Fats: The Good, the Bad, and the In-Between. Harvard Health Publishing. December 11, 2019.
- Can a Mediterranean Diet Lower My Risk of Alzheimer’s? Mayo Clinic. February 2018.
- What Is the Mediterranean Diet? American Heart Association. January 9, 2020.
- Martínez-González M, de la Fuente-Arrillaga C, Nunez-Cordoba JM, et al. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Developing Diabetes: Prospective Cohort Study. BMJ. June 14, 2008.
- Mediterranean Diet. Oldways.
- Mediterranean Diet for Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation.
- Brookie KL, Best GI, Conner TS. Intake of Raw Fruits and Vegetables Is Associated With Better Mental Health Than Intake of Processed Fruits and Vegetables. Frontiers in Psychology. April 2018.
- Guasch-Ferré M, Willett WC. The Mediterranean Diet and Health: A Comprehensive Overview. Journal of Internal Medicine. August 2021.
- Corley J, Cox SR, Taylor AM, et a. Dietary Patterns, Cognitive Function, and Structural Neuroimaging Measures of Brain Aging. Experimental Gerontology. December 2020.
- Colditz GA. Healthy Diet in Adults. UpToDate. 2016.
- Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease With a Mediterranean Diet. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013.
- Schwingshacki L, Hoffman G. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. International Journal of Cancer. 2014.
- Mediterranean Diet. American Heart Association.
- Toree-Moral A, Fabregues S, Anna-Bach F, et al. Family Meals, Conviviality, and the Mediterranean Diet Among Families With Adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. March 2021.
- Boucher JL. Mediterranean Eating Pattern. Diabetes Spectrum. May 2017.
- Mediterranean Diet 101. Oldways.
- Mediterranean Diet. Cleveland Clinic. September 19, 2019.
- Take Your Diet to the Mediterranean. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
- Davis C, Bryan J, Hodgson J, et al. Definition of the Mediterranean Diet: A Literature Review. Nutrients. November 2015.
- Nutritional Goals for Each Age/Sex Group used in assessing adequacy of USDA Food Patterns at various calorie levels. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Cámara M, Fernández-Ruiz V, Sánchez-Mata M, et al. Evidence of Antiplatelet Aggregation Effects From the Consumption of Tomato Products, According to EFSA Health Claim Requirements. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. March 2019.
- Ventriglio A, Sancassiani F, Contru MP, et al. Mediterranean Diet and Its Benefits on Health and Mental Health: A Literature Review. Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health. July 2020.