Mediterranean Diet for Heart Health: Foods to Eat and How to Get Started

Imagine you live on the Mediterranean Sea. Does it sound like a beautiful dream gone wrong?

While you may not be able to pack your bags and move to Greece, you can eat Mediterranean cuisine from the comfort of your own home. Named the Best Diet of 2023 by US News and World Report, the Mediterranean Diet brings you the Mediterranean holiday with added benefits. health benefits for your heart. Here’s everything you need to know about this nutrient-dense and non-restrictive diet.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the traditional diets of people living along the Mediterranean coast. Although each country’s diet may differ, the Mediterranean diet consists primarily of plant foods, seafood, lean poultry, whole grains, nuts, beans, olive oil, herbs and spices. The key is to eat fresh foods as much as possible, as highly processed foods are limited in the diet.

Green Mediterranean diet

A recent popular variation of the Mediterranean diet is called the green Mediterranean diet. Instead of occasionally eating red and processed meat on the regular Mediterranean diet, the Green Mediterranean diet cuts out meat altogether and puts more emphasis on plant-based foods. There is a set amount of calories and protein you should consume each day, along with three recommendations. Every day an individual must obtain 100 grams of duckweed (an aquatic plant, usually put in a shake), 3 to 4 cups of green tea And 1 ounce walnuts. A 2021 study found that the green Mediterranean diet variation may be healthier for the heart than the original diet. It may even be more effective in preventing and managing chronic diseases. A 2022 study found that the diet may help with age-related brain health.

Read more: 5 ‘Exercise Snacks’ You Can Start Now

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is not only a great diet for those who are kosher, vegetarian or budget-conscious, but it also has many health benefits.

Heart health

The most well-known benefit of this diet is its potential to improve heart health. A 2019 study concluded that the Mediterranean diet could lower the risk of stroke and heart disease. Due to the lower content of saturated fat in the diet, another study found that it can slow down the process of plaque formation in the arteries.

Brain health

The Mediterranean diet can promote brain health as we age. A recent study on Alzheimer’s disease found that a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of dementia and other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. It can also improve memory and cognitive function.

Possible weight loss

This diet can help you lose weight and maintain weight loss in the long term. A 2020 study found that participants who lost at least 10% of their body weight on the Mediterranean diet were twice as likely to maintain their weight.

Keep in mind that any diet is not complete without additional exercise. If you’re serious about losing weight, add daily exercise to your routine in addition to a new diet.

Read more: How does blood type affect your heart?

How does the Mediterranean diet work?

Olives, tomatoes, broccoli, olive oil

Getty Images/Claudia Totir/Moment

The Mediterranean diet is one of the easiest to follow and does not require calorie counting. Although there are no strict rules, there are some recommendations. These include food fish or seafood at least twice a week, drink a lot of water, eating a wide variety of foods And filling your plate daily with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and olive oil. In addition to these recommendations, you decide your own meals and snacks. This is what you are encouraged to eat.

Foods to eat on the Mediterranean diet

On the Mediterranean diet, try to eat plant-based, whole foods. These may include:

  • Fish (salmon, tuna, herring, etc.)
  • Seafood
  • Poultry, in moderation
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs, in moderation
  • Olive oil
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Pasta
  • Yogurt, in moderation
  • Nuts
  • 100% whole wheat bread
  • Spices
  • Spices
  • A glass of red wine with a meal (no more than one glass for women, two glasses for men)
  • A little dark chocolate

Foods Restricted to the Mediterranean Diet

While no food is “off limits,” try to rarely eat the following:

  • Red meat
  • Sugary foods and drinks
  • Processed foods
  • Butter

Meal ideas

Fill your shopping list with these meal ideas for the week.


  • Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and a cup of tea
  • Whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter and a cup of coffee (cream and sugar added in moderation)


  • Chicken orzo soup with vegetables
  • Greek salad with olives, avocado and feta cheese


  • Salmon cooked in olive oil, brown rice and roasted vegetables
  • Tuna over quinoa and arugula with olive oil vinaigrette dressing


  • Assorted nuts and seeds with natural cheese
  • Pita bread and vegetables with hummus

Is the Mediterranean Diet Right for You?

Bowl of spaghetti with shrimps, asparagus, tomatoes and pesto Bowl of spaghetti with shrimps, asparagus, tomatoes and pesto

Getty Images/Westend61/Westend61

Although voted the best diet of 2023, the Mediterranean diet is not suitable for everyone. Talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet. If you’re considering trying this diet for yourself, here are some points to keep in mind.

Then try the Mediterranean diet:

  • You do well with non-restrictive diets
  • You already eat a lot of seafood, plant foods, and whole grains
  • You are looking for a budget-friendly diet with few unhealthy fats and many healthy fats

Try a different diet or seek a dietitian if necessary:

  • You need more structure or require some foods to be completely banned
  • You have severe food restrictions or allergies
  • You need a tailored diet, weight loss and exercise plans

Frequently asked questions about the Mediterranean diet

What is not allowed in the Mediterranean diet?

Technically, no food is strictly forbidden within the Mediterranean diet. Try to reduce or avoid processed foods (especially processed meats), red meat, white bread and pasta, butter, processed oils and excessive alcohol consumption (except red wine).

Can you eat eggs on the Mediterranean diet?

Yes, you can eat eggs in moderation according to the Mediterranean diet. If you have high cholesterol, try to eat no more than four egg yolks per week.

Can you eat bananas on the Mediterranean diet?

Yes, you can eat bananas on the Mediterranean diet. It is recommended to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables during this diet.

What cheese can I eat on the Mediterranean diet?

Natural cheeses are best to eat according to the Mediterranean diet. Although there are no restrictions, the diet recommends limiting processed cheese. Stay away from heavily processed cheeses such as American cheese or cheese-in-a-can. Instead, opt for natural cheeses such as mozzarella, feta, cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan or Muenster.

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