"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
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.
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
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.
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.
"It is an appealing diet that one can stay with for a lifetime,” Cohen says.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
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