Easy Recipes

Full Mediterranean Diet Food List & Easy Recipes Ideas

Curious about the Mediterranean diet? Get the ins and outs of this super heart healthy diet and suggestions for incorporating easy Mediterranean-style meals into your day to day.

SUMMARY

Get the rundown on the Mediterranean diet, how it works, and learn a few simple recipes to get started.


There’s a lot of research out there that tells us a Mediterranean diet is a great way to stay healthy. If you’re interested in eating more heart-healthy food that can potentially help you live longer, we’ve created a Mediterranean diet food list for fast and tasty meal ideas to help you eat more Mediterranean-focused meals.  

Incorporating even a few meals into your diet can help you access the benefits of this amazing diet, so pick your favorites from this list and unlock the secret to a longer, healthier life. 



Table of Contents 

What is the Mediterranean Diet Good For? 
Who Should Follow the Mediterranean Diet? 
How Do You Follow a Mediterranean Diet? 
Mediterranean Diet Food List 
Recipes Using Your Mediterranean Diet Food List 
15 Minute Spicy Shrimp and Quinoa 
Sautéed Yellow Squash Skillet
Baked Tilapia with Lemon
Grain Bowl with Sautéed Spinach
Salmon Pita Sandwich



What is the Mediterranean Diet Good For? 

Besides being full of delicious food options, the Mediterranean Diet is a style of eating adapted from the diets of people living by the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers found that eating a diet filled with healthy, lean fats like those found in fish and olive oil, as well as whole grains, fresh produce, and limited dairy can lead to many health benefits like 

How Does the Mediterranean Diet Help with Inflammation and Why is that Important? 

Chronic inflammation is harmful to the body! It is a destructive cellular process that can cause heart disease, diabetes, dementia, premature aging, obesity, cancer, and other health issues in the long run.  

Foods promoted by the Mediterranean diet are rich in antioxidants and nutrients like polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, and Omega-3’s which all fight against inflammation in the body. In fact, it’s believed to be one of the main reasons this diet is so good for you. 


Who Should Follow the Mediterranean Diet? 

Everyone can benefit from following a Mediterranean diet!

We know it’s cliché to say everyone, but…. everyone! Seriously, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are plentiful, which should give any person reason enough to try it. Not to mention, it’s been ranked the #1 best overall diet in the world according to US News Today.  

Anyone looking to be more conscious of their cardiovascular health, managing their weight or blood sugar, or someone living with a chronic health condition will benefit the most from the Mediterranean diet.  

Though There Are Many Benefits, You Should Keep These Factors in Mind 

It is easy to overdo your fat content while on the Mediterranean diet, even if the fat is the healthy kind. Overeating things like nuts and avocado oil will increase your calories fast and overdoing even healthy fats can work against you.  

It’s also easy to miss essential nutrients and foods when you’re focusing on the healthy fat content in your meals. While you’re eating more fruits and vegetables, it’s important to remember to get enough complex carbs, iron, and protein as well.  

Keeping a balance while on the Mediterranean diet with a variety of foods is the key to getting the most out of your diet.  


How Do You Follow a Mediterranean Diet? 

Healthy fats are the key to the Mediterranean diet, as is reducing processed and refined foods. You should aim to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes as your main meal ingredients. 

Olive oil is recommended in place of things like butter or margarine and focus on natural sources of healthy fats are emphasized: avocados, nuts, and oily fatty fish (like salmon and sardines). 

Fish and other kinds of seafood (like oysters, crab, and shrimp) should be your main animal protein source in place of red meat and chicken, excluding some dairy products like whole fat cheeses, flavored yogurt, and eggs. Some dairy products like Greek yogurt and low-fat cheeses are permitted.  

Fish and other seafood should be your main source of protein on the Mediterranean diet.

Overall, you should focus on whole foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. Avoid red meat and processed foods as much as possible.  

Here’s what your overall plan should look like: 
 

  • Vegetables – 3 servings a day or more  
  • Fruits – 2 servings a day or more 
  • Whole Grains – the more the better! Use them whenever a recipe calls for rice, bread, or pasta. 
  • Legumes – 3 servings a week or more 
  • Nuts & Seeds – 3 servings a week or more 
  • Fish & Seafood – 3 servings a week or more 
  • Poultry – As needed if you love chicken or turkey but leave room for the more important foods listed above. 
  • Red Meats – Less than 3 servings per month 
  • Sweets & Baked Goods – Never is best, but it’s okay to treat yourself every now and then. 

Mediterranean Diet Food List 

If you’re out shopping, here’s a list of all the foods you should be on the lookout for. Many of these foods fall into multiple categories, making them super beneficial and healthy!  
 

Protein 

  • Beans 
  • Lentils 
  • Tofu 
  • Legumes 
  • Quinoa 
  • Crab 
  • Clams and Oysters 
  • Shrimp 
  • Mussels 

Fats 

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • Avocados 
  • Salmon 
  • Mackerel 
  • Tuna 
  • Sardines 
  • Olives 

Produce 

  • All Fruits 
  • All Berries 
  • All Non-Starchy Vegetables (broccoli, lettuce, brussels sprouts, etc.) 
  • All Starchy Vegetables (sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, etc.) 
  • Root Vegetables (radishes, onion, carrots, etc.) 
  • Tubers (potato, yams, turnips, etc.) 

Grains 

  • Whole Grain Crackers 
  • Whole Grain Pastas 
  • Brown or Wild Rice 
  • Farro 
  • Steel-Cut Oatmeal 
  • Bulgur Wheat  
  • Barley 
  • Couscous 
  • Spelt 
  • Buckwheat 

Dairy 

  • Plain Greek Yogurt (unflavored) 
  • Low-Fat Ricotta 
  • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese 
  • Feta 
  • Goat Cheese 

Nuts & Seeds 

  • Almonds 
  • Walnuts 
  • Chickpeas 
  • Pistachios 
  • Hazelnuts 
  • Cashews 
  • Pumpkin Seeds 
  • Hempseeds 
  • Sunflower Seeds 

For sweeteners, use honey or monk fruit sugar as these are preferred over white, processed sugars or sugar alternatives like Stevia or Splenda. Same for sauces, added sugar should be avoided when possible, so look for pesto, no sugar added tomato sauce, tzatziki, aioli, or vinegars. 

Red wine is occasionally okay, but you should aim for less alcohol and sweetened beverages and more water, black coffees, and herbal or unsweetened teas! 

SUMMARY

On the Mediterranean diet, you should focus on eating foods like: leafy greens, seafood, whole wheat breads and pastas, non-fat dairy, all kinds of nuts and seeds, berries, non-starchy and starchy vegetables, and a variety of fruit while limiting added sugars and processed foods.



Recipes Using Your Mediterranean Diet Food List 

Ready to get started on your new, healthy mean plan? Here are a few easy Mediterranean diet recipes using the Mediterranean diet food list from above and more. Remember: you don’t need to switch completely for this diet to work. Even eating a few meals following this way of eating will make a big difference. 

And if you’re shaky in the kitchen, no need to fear! We’ve got you covered for ready to eat Mediterranean meals every week. No cooking required. 

15 Minute Spicy Shrimp and Quinoa 

Calories: 468  Fat: 16g  Total Carbs: 42g   
Net Carbs: 34g  Fiber: 8g  Protein: 40g 

Shrimp and quinoa serve as a filling protein-packed Mediterranean dish.


Sautéed Yellow Squash Skillet 

Calories: 98 Fat: 8.3g  Total Carbs: 5.5g   
Net Carbs: 5.5g  Fiber: 0g  Protein:  2g 

This skillet recipe uses many of the ingredients found on the above Mediterranean diet food list!

 

Baked Tilapia with Lemon 

Calories: 320 Fat: 6.3g  Total Carbs: 6.3g   
Net Carbs: 5.1g  Fiber: 1.2g  Protein: 39.2g 

Make a tasty tilapia bake using capers, lemon, cherry tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.


Grain Bowl with Sautéed Spinach 

Calories: 458 Fat: 21g  Total Carbs: 56g   
Net Carbs: 47g  Fiber: 9g  Protein: 14g 

Eggs are allowed on the Mediterranean diet! Treat yourself to one atop this grain bowl.


Salmon Pita Sandwich 

Calories: 239 Fat: 7.1g  Total Carbs: 19g   
Net Carbs: 16.7g  Fiber: 2.3g  Protein: 24.8g 

Salmon is often used in Mediterranean diets. Try this pita sandwich on for size.