The Mediterranean Diet: The Best Meal Ideas to Get You Started

Packing up and moving to a country on the Mediterranean Sea may not be an easy task, but there is an easy way to get closer to that beautiful part of the world. We’re talking about the Mediterranean diet, which was named the best diet of 2024 by U.S. News and World Report and is also one of the best diets for weight loss according to experts. The Mediterranean diet can bring the Mediterranean right into your home with added benefits for heart health.

It’s a nutrient-dense, nonrestrictive diet that works for many people. If that sounds appealing, here’s everything you need to know to get started on the Mediterranean diet. But before you dive into a new diet plan, be sure to consult your doctor first.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the traditional diets of people living along the Mediterranean coast. While the diet varies from country to country, 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 as much fresh food as possible, as highly processed foods are limited in the diet.

Green Mediterranean Diet

A recent popular variation of the Mediterranean diet is the Green Mediterranean diet. Instead of occasionally eating red and processed meat in the regular Mediterranean diet, the Green Mediterranean diet eliminates meat altogether and focuses more on plant-based foods.

There is a set amount of calories and protein that you should consume each day, along with three recommendations. Each day an individual should 100 grams 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 at preventing and treating chronic diseases. A 2022 study found that the diet may help with age-related brain health.

Read more: The Atlantic Diet: Why Eating Local, Whole Foods Can Improve Your Health

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has many health benefits and is suitable for those who are kosher, vegetarian, or watching their budget.

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 can lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. Also, a 2021 study found that, due to the lower saturated fat content in the diet, it can slow the process of plaque formation in the arteries.

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Brain health

The Mediterranean diet may promote brain health as we age. A 2021 study on Alzheimer’s disease found that a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of dementia and other Alzheimer’s risk factors. It may also improve memory and cognitive function.

Possible weight loss

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

Keep in mind that no diet is complete without additional exercise. If you are serious about weight loss, add daily exercise to your routine in addition to a new diet. Be sure to consult your doctor to find the right diet and exercise plan for you.

Read more: Does Your Blood Type Affect Your Heart Health? Yes, But Here’s the Full Story

How does the Mediterranean diet work?

Olives, tomatoes, broccoli, olive oil Olives, tomatoes, broccoli, olive oil

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The Mediterranean diet is one of the easiest to follow, and it doesn’t require counting calories. While there are no strict rules, there are a few recommendations. These include eating fish or seafood at least twice a week, drink a lot of water, eating a wide variety of foods And Fill your plate daily with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and olive oil. Besides these recommendations, your meals and snacks are up to you. Here is what you are advised to eat.

Foods to Eat on the Mediterranean Diet

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

  • Fish (salmon, tuna, herring, etc.)
  • Seafood
  • Poultry, in moderation
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • 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 meals (no more than one glass for women, two glasses for men)
  • A little bit of dark chocolate

Foods to Limit on the Mediterranean Diet

While no food is “off-limits,” you should try to eat the following foods only rarely:

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

Meal ideas

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


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


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


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


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

Is the Mediterranean Diet Right for You?

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

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Although the Mediterranean diet has been named the best diet of 2024, it is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet. If you are considering trying this diet for yourself, here are some points to remember.

You should try the Mediterranean diet if:

  • You do well with non-restrictive diets
  • You already eat a lot of fish, 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 consult a dietitian if:

  • You need more structure or you want certain foods to be completely banned
  • You have severe food restrictions or allergies
  • You need a customized diet, weight loss and exercise plan

Frequently Asked Questions About the Mediterranean Diet

What is not allowed in the Mediterranean diet?

Technically, no foods are strictly “off-limits” on the Mediterranean diet. Try to avoid or reduce 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 on 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 a lot of fruits and vegetables on this diet.

Which cheese is suitable for the Mediterranean diet?

Natural cheeses are the best to eat on the Mediterranean diet. While there are no restrictions, the diet recommends limiting processed cheese. Stay away from highly processed cheeses like American or canned cheese. Instead, opt for natural cheeses like mozzarella, feta, cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, or Muenster.

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