What is a Mediterranean diet?

A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Mediterranean cuisine varies by region, but is largely based on vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, olive oil and fish.

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with a better quality of life and good health, including a healthier heart, a longer lifespan and good weight management.

A 2013 study found that people on a Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

You can make your diet more Mediterranean by:

  • eating more bread and pasta
  • eating more fruit and vegetables
  • eating more fish
  • eating less meat
  • choosing products made from vegetable and plant oils, such as olive oil

The diet is similar to the government's healthy eating advice set out in the eatwell plate, which shows the foods needed for a balanced, healthy diet.

The eatwell plate shows how much you should eat of each food group.

This includes everything you eat during the day, including snacks. So, try to eat:

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods – choose wholegrain varieties whenever you can
  • some milk and dairy foods
  • some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • just a small amount of foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar

It's a good idea to try to get this balance right every day, but you don't need to do it at every meal. You might find it easier to get the balance right over a longer period, such as over the course of a week.

Page last reviewed: 19/03/2013

Next review due: 19/03/2015


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

observer59 said on 28 January 2014

It is now very clear to me that the Mediterranean diet is the correct way to go. I am169kg and have type2 diabetes.
I never feel very well and have to watch everything I eat. I have to take metformin and insulin. I would say avoid my condition at all cost by eating the right thing before it's too late. If you think about it eating natural stuff like fruit and vegetables makes complete sense.

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