What is a Mediterranean diet?
A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions. But in general, it's high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.
The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart.
How to make your diet more Mediterranean
You can make your diet more Mediterranean-style by:
- eating plenty of starchy foods, such as bread and pasta
- eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
- including fish in your diet
- eating less meat
- choosing products made from vegetable and plant oils, such as olive oil
The Eatwell Guide
The Mediterranean diet is very similar to the government's healthy eating advice, which is set out in the Eatwell Guide.
The guide shows what foods are needed for a healthy, balanced diet and how much you should eat of each food group:
- eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day – find out more about getting your 5 A Day
- base your meals on starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta – choose wholegrain versions where possible
- eat some beans or pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, 1 of which should be oily)
- have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) – choose lower-fat and lower-sugar options
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day
- if consuming foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar, have them less often and in small amounts – find out more about reducing sugar in your diet
You don't need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get it right over the course of a day or even a week.
Page last reviewed: 1 December 2017
Next review due: 1 December 2020