What is a Mediterranean Diet Food List?

The Mediterranean diet is named for the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea whose diets it is inspired by. While these countries, such as Italy, Turkey, and Greece, clearly have a wide range of cuisines, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes some standard underlying features.

These key aspects of the Mediterranean diet are:

  • Healthy (monounsaturated) fats from extra virgin olive oil and plant-based sources
  • Minimally processed plant-based sources of nutrition, such as fruits and vegetables, but also seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Lean protein sources include fish, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy.

Foods that are limited in the Mediterranean diet include highly processed foods, saturated fats, and refined grains.

As you can tell from this list, many foods fit into the above categories! We have compiled a helpful list of Mediterranean diet foods to help narrow down some options that align with the Mediterranean diet philosophy.

Printable Mediterranean Diet Food List

Download this Mediterranean Diet Food List to help clients lower their risk of chronic disease through the Mediterranean diet.

How Does It Work?

This printable Mediterranean Diet Food List works as a quick source of inspiration for your clients when they are looking for meal ideas but want to adhere to the Mediterranean Diet. 

Print Out the Mediterranean Diet Food List 

Your clients can print out this Mediterranean Diet Food List and take it grocery shopping with them, stick it on their fridge for healthy snack ideas or as a reminder of which foods will help them reap the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, or use it as recipe inspiration when they can’t decide what’s for dinner.

Plan Meals Around the Foods on this List

Once your clients have their copy of this Mediterranean Diet Food List, they must select foods from each category to build a balanced meal that adheres to the Mediterranean Diet philosophy. 

Add Additional Foods and Notes

This food list also includes spaces for you or your clients to add foods under each section that work for their lifestyle or preferences. 

Mediterranean Diet Food List Example (Sample)

To see what this Mediterranean Diet Food List might look like once your client has made it their own, just look at our example Mediterranean Diet Food List. This example includes extra foods, recipes, and meal planning notes in the Notes section.

You can access our example Meditteranean Diet Foot List or download a copy here. 

Download this Mediterranean Diet Food List Example:

Mediterranean Diet Food List Example (Sample)

When Would You Use This List?

Managing Chronic Conditions

Alongside a comprehensive treatment plan, diet can be a great way to manage chronic conditions, and the Mediterranean Diet has many proven benefits across many chronic conditions.

Improve Clients’ Future Health Outcomes

The Mediterranean Diet is also a great choice for those who are looking to prevent disease from occurring in the first place. 

Visual Reminders for Clients

If your clients have been struggling to make a positive lifestyle change, having a visual reminder, such as a food list, can be a helpful way to promote positive choices. This Mediterranean Diet Food List can be a constant reminder of which foods will help them reap the many benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.

Research & Evidence

The Mediterranean diet has been widely studied and shown to have significant health benefits across many peer-reviewed studies.

One study found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil reduced the risk of invasive breast cancer development among women aged between 60 and 80 years in Spain (Toledo et al., 2015).

Another study conducted by the DELCODE Study Group found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet improved memory, preserved grey matter volume, and reduced the incidence of pathologic biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease (Ballarini et al., 2021)

Finally, a critical review of the Mediterranean’s impact on cardiovascular health found that the Mediterranean diet is associated with reductions in coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease (Martínez-González, 2019). 

One of the commonly suggested mechanisms of the Mediterranean diet in protecting against so many negative health outcomes is the presence of polyphenols in extra-virgin olive oil (Nikou, 2019) and the abundance of minimally processed plant-based foods in this diet. 

Clearly, the Mediterranean diet is a fantastic choice for a balanced lifestyle, and the American Heart Association endorses it due to the abundance of evidence proving just this. 

References

Ballarini, T., Melo Van Lent, D., Brunner, J., Schröder, A., Wolfsgruber, S., Altenstein, S., Brosseron, F., Buerger, K., Dechent, P., Dobisch, L., Düzel, E., Ertl-Wagner, B., Fliessbach, K., Freiesleben, S. D., Frommann, I., Glanz, W., Hauser, D., Haynes, J. D., Heneka, M. T., … on behalf of the DELCODE Study Group. (2021). Mediterranean Diet, Alzheimer Disease Biomarkers, and Brain Atrophy in Old Age. Neurology, 96(24), e2920–e2932. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000012067

Dernini, S., Berry, E., Serra-Majem, L., La Vecchia, C., Capone, R., Medina, F., Aranceta-Bartrina, J., Belahsen, R., Burlingame, B., Calabrese, G., Corella, D., Donini, L., Lairon, D., Meybeck, A., Pekcan, A., Piscopo, S., Yngve, A., & Trichopoulou, A. (2017). Med Diet 4.0: The Mediterranean diet with four sustainable benefits. Public Health Nutrition, 20(7), 1322–1330. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980016003177

Martínez-González, M. A., Gea, A., & Ruiz-Canela, M. (2019). The Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health: A Critical Review. Circulation Research, 124(5), 779–798. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.313348

Mediterranean Diet 101: Meal Plan, Foods List, and Tips. (2023, May 17). Healthline. Retrieved November 8, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan

Nikou, T., Liaki, V., Stathopoulos, P., Sklirou, A. D., Tsakiri, E. N., Jakschitz, T., Bonn, G., Trougakos, I. P., Halabalaki, M., & Skaltsounis, L. A. (2019). Comparison survey of EVOO polyphenols and exploration of healthy aging-promoting properties of oleocanthal and oleacein. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 125, 403–412. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2019.01.016

Toledo, E., Salas-Salvadó, J., Donat-Vargas, C., Buil-Cosiales, P., Estruch, R., Ros, E., Corella, D., Fitó, M., Hu, F. B., Arós, F., Gómez-Gracia, E., Romaguera, D., Ortega-Calvo, M., Serra-Majem, L., Pintó, X., Schröder, H., Basora, J., Sorlí, J. V., Bulló, M., … Martínez-González, M. A. (2015). Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(11), 1752. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4838

What is the Mediterranean Diet? (2020, January 9). American Heart Association. Retrieved November 8, 2023, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet

Why are Mediterranean Diet Food Lists helpful?
Why are Mediterranean Diet Food Lists helpful?

Commonly asked questions

Why are Mediterranean Diet Food Lists helpful?

We all find ourselves at a loss for meal inspiration now and then, and this Mediterranean Diet Food List can help ensure your clients will be empowered to make the best choice for themselves in those moments. 

What are the benefits of a Mediterranean Diet?

The benefits of the Mediterranean Diet have been widely studied, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, and incidence of chronic conditions. As a result of its heart-healthy nature, the Mediterranean Diet has been endorsed by the American Heart Association. It is the preferred diet of many due to its logical and (delicious) inclusions.

How long is a Mediterranean Diet Food List followed?

Unlike many fad diets, a Mediterranean Diet is intended as a lifestyle change and is usually followed long-term. Due to its relatively relaxed nature and the allowance of “limited” foods in moderation, this is normally a positive lifestyle change and is easy and beneficial to follow. 

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