Last updated on September 15th, 2021 at 11:59 am

Weight loss is not magic! Yes, most people dream of losing weight quickly but believe me, it’s not healthy. There are many diet plans which are used to lose weight, but always choose what fits you, and you should search for a healthy diet plan as well, which helps you naturally lose weight. The Mediterranean diet is a great diet for weight loss and enjoying good health as well. It has a good reputation for being a healthy diet.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet can be defined as a diet derived from foods eaten in countries that border the Mediterranean sea by following their traditional foods, and it varies according to the country and region. But in general, it expresses a system.

The main idea of this diet is eating the foods that residents of this region frequently eat, such as vegetables, fish, olive oil, grains, fruits, seeds, and nuts. You can notice that these foods are real and healthy and important sources of nutrients, which are important for the body. Besides, it depends on reducing eating sweets and red meat.

As you know, there are many countries in the Mediterranean region, so you can find many ways of the Med diet.

Read Also: +50 Easy To Digest Foods For an Upset Stomach

The History of the Mediterranean diet

The area around the Mediterranean Sea has witnessed many civilizations and cultures throughout history. Countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq used to cultivate cereals and legumes, while the Greeks and the Romans used to cultivate olive trees, which are a source of olives and olive oil.

The Romans also used to cultivate a variety of vegetables and fruits, which are used mainly in the Med diet. As you can see, there is no specific way of the Med diet due to the differences in lifestyle, cuisines, geography, and the local products of each country in this area. The Med diet is a mix of all the foods that are eaten in this region in common, which makes it a super varied diet.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The base of the pyramid shows physical activity and social communication. When you move up the pyramid, there are the foods that should be eaten regularly such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, olive oil, spices, and herbs. Moving up the pyramid shows the foods that are recommended to eat at least two times per week such as fish and seafood.

Mediterranean Diet PyramidKeep moving up to the foods that are eaten in moderation such as poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. Meats and sweets are at the top of the pyramid, which should be eaten in small amounts.

What should you eat on the Mediterranean diet?

The most recommend foods that are should be eaten every day are:

  • Vegetables

Fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables, or canned vegetables all can be used in every meal like:

Tomatoes, leafy greens, garlic, onions, cabbage, mushrooms, squash, green beans, cabbage, carrots, eggplant, beets, broccoli, peas, and asparagus.

  • Fruits

Fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals. The good news is that they can be eaten fresh or dried like:

Pomegranates, peaches, avocados, berries, grapes, apples, apricots, oranges, dates, figs, melon, plums, cherries, and bananas.

  • Whole grains

They contain fiber which is an effective component that helps in weight loss. In addition, they are a source of vitamin Bs and minerals. 

Rice, couscous, quinoa, bread, pasta, oatmeal, bulgur, polenta, barely, buckwheat, farro, whole-grain bread, and freekeh are all options for whole grains

  • Nuts and seeds

They can use them in cooking or as a snack. They contain good amounts of healthy fats and fiber. You can enjoy eating various kinds of them such as:

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews, and pine nuts

  • Legumes and beans

They are important components in the Med diet as they can be eaten regularly because they contain protein and fiber, which are essentially needed in any healthy balanced diet. You can eat legumes and beans including:

Pinto beans, hummus, kidney beans, lentils, white beans, chickpeas, and black beans

  • Mediterranean Diet FoodsHealthy fats and oils

Using them is highly recommended on the Mediterranean diet, especially olive oil, which is a super healthy oil, which can be used in cooking or as an addition to salads and many dishes. [1]Effects on Health Outcomes of a Mediterranean Diet With No Restriction on Fat Intake

You can also use ghee, avocado oil, and grape seed oil

  • Herbs and spices

They are considered a great addition to flavor your dishes. You can use all dried herbs and spices, and all fresh herbs as well. Salt should be used in a limited amount

Some foods should be eaten in moderation including:

  • Seafood

Fish is considered an essential source of lean protein. Eating oily fish like salmon is a great way for having omega 3s. On the Mediterranean diet,  seafood is allowed to be eaten at least two times per week. You have many options, so you can choose your favorite kind of them like:

Sardines, wild salmon, tuna, canned tuna, shrimp, crab, lobster, anchovies, trout, clams, sea bass, mussels, oysters, halibut, and whitefish

  • Eggs and dairy products

Eating eggs is a great way to get protein. And for the cheese, It’s advisable to go for the traditional cheese which is not processed.

You can eat parmesan cheese, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, milk, and yogurt

Eggs like chicken eggs, quail eggs, and duck eggs

Now, here is the list of foods that should be eaten in small amounts:

  • Red meats

If you follow the Med diet, you should limit eating red meat to few times per month

  • Sweets

Reducing eating sweets is important due to their high sugar and carbs content

You should avoid eating:

  1. Highly processed foods 
  2. Too much sugar can be found in soda, candies, ice cream, and others
  3. Refined grains
  4. Trans fats
  5. Processed meats
  6. Refined oils

What are the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet?

As we mentioned before, the traditional Mediterranean diet basically focuses on eating vegetables, fruits, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish, which are all excellent resources for healthy nutrients, which have a direct positive impact on health. The health benefits of this diet are several including:

  1. Containing healthy fats affects positively on the brain, which helps slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease [2]Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer’s disease | Movement and Nutrition in Health and Disease (movement-nutrition.de)
  2. It’s a completely healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants are known for their role in reducing the cells damage that mainly causes Parkinson’s disease  [3]Diet and medical foods in Parkinson’s disease – ScienceDirect
  3. Following the Mediterranean diet is approved to be effective in promoting heart health, which leads to protecting against strokes and heart attacks  [4]Mediterranean diet and prevention of coronary heart disease in the elderly (nih.gov)
  4. Consuming carbs from vegetables does not increase blood sugar, unlike refined carbs. In addition, it does not encourage eating much sugar and sweets, which means enjoying stable blood sugar, which is important to prevent type 2 diabetes [5]Prevention and control of type 2 diabetes by Mediterranean diet: A systematic review – ScienceDirect
  5.  It has an effective impact on enhancing memory and reducing depression and anxiety because it contains healthy fats and carotenoids, which are found in eggs, kale, and spinach, which affect the mood positively by increasing the good bacteria in the gut [6]The Mediterranean dietary pattern and depression risk: A systematic review – ScienceDirect
  6. Researchers have linked the Med diet with reducing the risk of cancer, especially gastric cancer, breast cancer,  and colon cancer [7]Cancer and Mediterranean Diet: A Review
  7.  Following the healthy Med diet may help positively in post-menopausal women [8]Adherence to Mediterranean dietary pattern and menopausal symptoms in relation to overweight/obesity in Spanish perimenopausal and postmenopausal women
  8. Because of its healthy impact on the heart and blood sugar, it helps lead to living longer [9]Effect of Mediterranean Diet in Diabetes Control and Cardiovascular Risk Modification: A Systematic Review (nih.gov)
  9. Since the Med diet is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and minerals, it helps boost the probiotic bacteria in the gut, which leads to promoting gut health, which is connected to mental health [10]Mediterranean diet promotes gut bacteria linked to ‘healthy ageing’ in older people | BMJ
  10. Foods that are included in the Med diet have a high content of healthy fats that come from olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish that has an effective impact on improving cholesterol levels  [11]A fish a day, keeps the cardiologist away! – A review of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system (nih.gov)
  11. Containing high levels of healthy nutrients helps improve the muscles function [12]Mediterranean diet is linked to higher muscle mass, bone density after menopause — ScienceDaily
  12. Following the Med diet helps to lose weight without depriving the body of the necessary nutrients [13]Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet | NEJM

The side effects of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is known around the world to be a healthy diet, but like any weight loss diet, it may have some cons including

  1. It mainly depends on eating healthy fats, but if you eat fats more than the recommended amount, you will gain weight
  2. This diet recommended eating meat in limited amounts, which may cause iron deficiency
  3. It’s a famous diet around the world, but it does not have a specific program to follow
  4. It depends on eating healthy fats like fish, nuts, and olive oil, which are all a bit expensive

Read Also: The 1000 Calorie Diet Plan For Quick Weight Loss

Metabolic Syndrome Mediterranean Diet

A metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems that occur together, and they are basically linked to overweight and obesity. It is a group of risk factors that increase the chance of having some dangerous medical conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and strokes. Obesity arises and develops in one or two out of five people due to malnutrition, which is eating a lot of unhealthy fatty meals, a lot of starches, and unhealthy processed foods. Getting older without enough movement also may lead to obesity.

The Mediterranean diet can be used as therapy for metabolic syndrome since it depends on adopting healthy eating habits, which are essential for heart health. So, following this diet helps lower the risk of cardiovascular and chronic disease. A medical study has shown that the Med diet has a positive impact on the negative effects of metabolic syndrome due to the healthy fats in extra-virgin olive oil and nuts[14]Impact of Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome, cancer and longevity (nih.gov). That was indicated by a study published in the Canadian Medical Association journal.

In addition, The Med diet has been approved to have a healthy impact on the heart, which helps protect against the risk of heart attacks and strokes among patients who have high risks in this regard, according to statistics issued by the “World Health Organization.” 

Med diet is a successful diet that helps prevent and manage metabolic syndrome because it is based on eating healthy foods such as olive oil, whole grains, fruits, nuts, fish, vegetables, fish, and low-carb foods, which are all rich in healthy components that help reduce inflammation, which is related to metabolic syndrome.

Different Protocols of The Med Diet:

Vegetarian Mediterranean diet

Vegetarians find the Med diet easy to follow since it depends mainly on eating vegetables, and they can be eaten in every meal. The main idea of being vegetarian means not eating animal products, so they have to use protein substitutions such as:

  1. Chickpeas
  2. Lentils
  3. Green peas
  4. Tofu
  5. Quinoa
  6. Chia seeds
  7. Brown rice

The vegans Mediterranean diet

To be vegan is not a problem for following the Med diet since you have good alternatives that can be used instead of animal-based foods. Here are the foods that vegans can enjoy eating in the Med diet:

Unsweetened soy, coconut milk, and almond are considered good alternatives for dairy products

It’s important to eat a few desserts and drink plenty of water. It’s also advisable to take supplements containing omega-3 fats which are found in fatty fish. Studies show that vegans are successful in losing weight easily when they follow this diet. It’s important to mention that, involving physical activities is very essential for achieving weight loss. [15]Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Consumer (nih.gov)

The Paleo Mediterranean Diet

Combining the Med diet and the Paleo diet together provides many health benefits. In both of them fish is the main source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and they encourage eating fruits and vegetables. 

Read More: Paleo Vs. Mediterranean Vs. Vegan | Which One to Follow?

The Keto Mediterranean Diet

It’s a healthy diet that depends on eating keto foods, which are eaten in the traditional Med diet to make an eating plan, which provides the health benefits of both of the two diets.

The Dash Diet Mediterranean Solution

The Med-Dash plan includes a variety of food options. It’s appropriate for vegetarians and for people who like eating meat as well. It’s considered a new approach to reach your health goals.

The Pasco Mediterranean Diet

This diet is based on combining eating the foods that are included in the traditional Mediterranean diet with intermittent fasting, which leads to weight loss and many health benefits.

Success Stories

Stories for people who adopted the Mediterranean diet

He is a dietician and the owner of Mediterranean Living. He suffered from being overweight for years, and especially after the death of his mother, he gained more weight until he weighed 256 pounds. He decided to change his life by following a healthy diet and involving physical activities in his life. After that, he created his Mediterranean diet program, in which he involved himself and managed to lose weight. He said that he is happy with his body shape and looking younger.

She weighed 190 pounds when she decided to follow the Mediterranean diet to lose weight. She succeeded to lose 6o pounds in seven months. She followed the 1,500 calories diet with daily exercising, which helped her lose this big amount of weight. 

She is a famous chef who has used the Mediterranean diet as a part of her eating habits. She managed to drop two pants sizes and reduce her waist size by two inches.

She is a celebrity in Hollywood who is known for her perfect body shape. She revealed that she follows the Mediterranean diet and drinks plenty of water while exercising, which helps her to be fit.

She is a star on American television. She started to follow the Med diet in 2010 which helped her to change her way of eating. She revealed that she enjoys eating the foods in the Med diet such as fish and vegetables. They are healthy and delicious as well, which helps her to feel better and look younger.

Last words

After all, we can see that the Mediterranean diet is a super healthy diet for everyone who wants to adopt healthy eating habits.  It is rich in useful nutrients and it can be easily a part of our lifestyle combined with daily physical activities, which leads to enjoying a healthy life.

FAQS

Is the Mediterranean diet a low-carb diet?

Yes, the Med diet is basically focusing on eating foods that are low in carbohydrates, which helps lose weight effectively and also provide the body with several health benefits including:

  1. Lowering blood pressure
  2. Managing blood sugar
  3. Improving cholesterol levels

Is the Mediterranean diet a low-fat diet?

No, the Med diet is one of the diets that include fat basically, but we are here talking about healthy fats that come from olive oil, fatty fish, and nuts. It is considered a good diet for heart health since it depends on eating unsaturated fats.

Is it allowed to drink wine on the Med diet?

Yes, wine can be included. Men can drink 2 glasses per day, and women can drink 1 glass per day.

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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