Mediterranean diet: principles, menus, scientific facts

Eating according to the principles of the Mediterranean diet

There are no contraindications or severe restrictions on the Mediterranean diet. And most importantly, the lost pounds do not return. Together with the doctor, we understand his secret.

How the Mediterranean diet works

It is easy to explain the popularity of the Mediterranean diet. Scientists have found that people in the Mediterranean countries rarely suffer from heart disease and obesity due to the nature of the diet. In the ordinary sense, this is not really a diet, but a healthy eating habit typical of Greeks, Italians, Spaniards and Moroccans. There are no serious restrictions, rules or numbers. It mainly aims to teach the body a balanced diet and improve health.

At the same time, kilograms go very slowly and smoothly: it can take about six months to see the first results. But there are advantages. You do not have to go hungry, that is, the body will not experience stress. This approach allows you to stay in good shape for a long time and prevent weight gain in the future. Another advantage of this diet is that it allows you to eat delicious, healthy and varied food, so it can be followed at all times.

Shrimp salad on the Mediterranean diet menu

Foods to be included in the diet

The Mediterranean diet menu is rich in plant foods, lean fish and seafood. It is balanced and contains all the substances that are important for the body, so it is suitable for almost everyone. You should not try such a diet in case of allergies or individual intolerance to certain foods. A nice bonus: you are allowed to change the menu according to your personal preferences.

  • Pay attention to fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains. They should be the basis of the diet. Try to prefer foods that are almost the least processed, ideally organic.
  • Save red meat and sausages for special occasions. They can not be on the menu more than twice a month. You should not take it with chicken and eggs. But you can't limit yourself to fish and seafood. With such a diet it is recommended to eat them at least twice a day or weekly.
  • Eat less fat milk and fermented dairy products. The main thing is that they do not contain sugar, flavors and fillers.
  • For plenty of clean, stagnant water. Tea and coffee lovers can enjoy it as usual, but do not add sugar to drinks. If you want, you can drink a glass of dry red wine a day.
  • There are three main meals in the Mediterranean diet - breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you feel hungry in the meantime, you can take a handful of nuts, berries, Greek yogurt or fruit.
  • With such a diet, it is not necessary to count calories and monitor the ratio of macronutrients - proteins, fats, carbohydrates - entering the body. If you decide to have dinner in a restaurant, prefer seafood or fish. In this case, it is advisable to ask them to fry in olive oil.
  • Don't forget about healthy sleep and physical activity - exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Moderate exercise will speed up the weight loss process. In addition, supporters of the Mediterranean diet pay special attention to communication with loved ones. Whenever possible, cook and sit with your family to lift your spirits and relieve the stress that often leads to overeating.

List of main products:

  • Vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, spinach, onions, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, turnips.
  • Fruits and berries: apples, pears, bananas, oranges, tangerines, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches.
  • Hazelnuts and Seeds: Almonds, Walnuts, Macadamia, Hazelnuts, Cashews, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds.
  • Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, peas.
  • Cereals: Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole grain bread, durum wheat pasta.
  • Fish and seafood: salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, uskumru, shrimp, oysters, shellfish, crustaceans, mussels.
  • Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey.
  • Eggs: chicken, quail, duck.
  • Dairy products: cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt.
  • Herbs and spices: garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper.
  • Healthy Oils: Leaky olive oil, olive, avocado and avocado oil.

If necessary, some expensive products can be replaced with more affordable and familiar ones. So, instead of Greek yogurt, you can take ordinary kefir or homemade yogurt. Whole grains are replaced with buckwheat, barley and oatmeal, and trout or tuna are replaced with herring, which contains the same essential omega-3 fatty acids. White cabbage is a great alternative to broccoli, and seasonal fruits are great for figs and peaches. You can also save on olive oil. For example, unrefined sunflower oil contains more omega-6, phytosterols and vitamin E.

The Food Pyramid reflects the total proportion of foods recommended for the Mediterranean diet

Foods to avoid

There is no taboo in the Mediterranean diet. However, the consumption of some foods should be reduced or even better eliminated altogether. These include white sugar, wheat flour, ready meals, refined oils, alcohol, soda, fast food and highly processed foods (chocolate bars, snacks, sausages, sausages). Use dried herbs and spices instead of salt. It is better to gradually give up regular meals - this will help to minimize stress for the body.

Weekly menu selection


  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fresh berries and granola.
  • Lunch: lentil soup and whole grain avocado sandwich.
  • Dinner: tuna salad with beans, apples and olive oil.


  • Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins and honey.
  • Lunch: minestrone soup and seafood salad.
  • Lunch: broccoli casserole and natural yogurt.


  • Breakfast: omelette with vegetables, tomatoes and olives.
  • Dinner: baked fish and bulgur with green peas.
  • Dinner: a glass of kefir and low-fat cottage cheese casserole.


  • Breakfast: natural yogurt with fruit and nuts.
  • Lunch: whole grain salmon and avocado sandwich.
  • Dinner: white cabbage cooked with chicken breast.


  • Breakfast: oatmeal with walnuts and honey.
  • Dinner: brown rice with eggs, onions and avocado.
  • Lunch: pasta with seafood and a glass of red wine.


  • Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fried vegetables.
  • Lunch: durum wheat spaghetti and grilled beef.
  • Dinner: whole grain pizza with cheese and vegetables.


  • Breakfast: steamed cheesecakes, fruit and honey.
  • Lunch: fish soup and cucumber and tomato salad.
  • Dinner: lasagna with vegetables and a glass of red wine.

Benefits and benefits of the Mediterranean diet

The main advantage of the diet is the benefits to the body. It is no coincidence that nutritionists give it the status of one of the safest food systems. The results of many years of research prove it. Here are some scientifically proven facts about how the Mediterranean diet affects the body.

Fruit porridge for breakfast in the Mediterranean diet

1. Strengthens the heart

For their research, Spanish scientists invited 7, 447 volunteers between the ages of 55 and 80 with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Participants were offered three diets - a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with a nutty accent, and a low-fat diet. Over the next five years, experts monitored the health of the participants.

The results showed that the risk of stroke and heart attack in people who follow the Mediterranean diet is reduced by almost a third. According to scientists, the diet helps to remove "bad" cholesterol from the body, as well as normalizes blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

2. Helps prevent diabetes

The same scientists tried to study how the Mediterranean diet affects the development of type 2 diabetes. To do this, at the beginning of the study assessed the condition of 418 people without the disease. Those who chose the Mediterranean diet were 52% less likely to develop diabetes than those who followed a low-fat diet.

3. Improves intestinal function

According to a study by an international group of scientists, the Mediterranean diet has a beneficial effect on the intestinal microflora. Specialists monitored the health of 612 people aged 65-79 from Poland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France and Italy. Subjects followed a Mediterranean diet for a year. As a result, there was a slower loss of bacterial diversity and an increase in the number of "good" bacteria and beneficial fatty acids. At the same time, the number of bacteria involved in the formation of inflammatory chemicals and bile acids has decreased.

4. Prolongs life

Cardiologists at the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne (France) have found that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of premature death. The study involved 605 people who had a heart attack six months ago. They were also offered two meal options - a low-fat diet and a Mediterranean diet. The researchers followed the patients' health for four years. In the Mediterranean diet group, the risk of death from all causes was 45% lower and from heart disease 70% lower.

5. Helps to lose weight

You can normalize your weight without counting calories in the Mediterranean diet. Scientists from the University of Second Naples have come to this conclusion. The study involved 99 men and 81 women. They were divided into two groups. One was required to follow the recommended ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats, and the other - to increase the consumption of grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, olive oil. Two years later, the scientists evaluated the result: the weight loss in the Mediterranean diet group was three times higher.

This is confirmed by a study by Canadian experts. According to him, the Mediterranean diet is no less effective than a low-carbohydrate diet. With its help you can lose up to 10 kg per year. If you want to speed up weight loss, calculate your calorie intake and follow it when compiling the menu.

Italian doctors conducted another large study involving 32, 119 volunteers. For almost 12 years, all participants remained committed to the principles of the Mediterranean diet. It has been found that long-term adherence to this diet reduces the risk of weight gain and abdominal fat accumulation over the next five years after stopping the diet.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the consumption of healthy foods, including greens

Doctor's opinion

Are there any disadvantages of the Mediterranean diet?

The principles of the Mediterranean diet are in line with WHO recommendations. Rich in vegetables and fruits, complex carbohydrates, healthy unsaturated fatty acids, complete protein. Restrictions apply only to fast carbohydrates, fast foods, convenience foods and foods rich in trans fats. By clearing his diet of such foods, a person who follows the principles of the Mediterranean diet begins to lose weight in the majority. The process is not fast, but it is the best. Rapid weight loss is bad for your health.

The food basket will be more expensive, because the Mediterranean diet involves the consumption of large amounts of vegetables, fish, seafood, high quality vegetable oils. But it is not worth saving for health. Because a balanced diet is the key to harmonious development.

Dry red wine is one of the most important components of the Mediterranean diet, explaining its benefits. Really? And how much wine is safe?

As a rule, no more than 150 ml of wine per day is safe for women, and no more than 200 ml for men. It is preferable not to drink this amount at once, but to distribute it throughout the day. Drinking wine is not an important part of the Mediterranean diet. If you have a liver or heart problem or can't control your alcohol intake, it can and should not be ignored. On the contrary, wine is part of a geographical tradition.

Who should not try this diet?

The Mediterranean diet is versatile and has no serious contraindications due to a balanced and varied diet. However, such a diet should be treated with caution in patients with diseases of the liver or gastrointestinal tract due to high fat content. You should consult your doctor in advance. Naturally, it should be limited to people with allergic reactions and intolerance to foods used in the diet.

Some doctors have recommended a Mediterranean diet to prevent coronavirus. Is this right?

It is important to pay attention to immunity to fight viral infections. The functioning of the immune system directly depends on what we eat. If the diet is balanced, rich in vegetables and fruits, you consume enough fiber, do not neglect cereals and legumes, get full protein and all the essential fatty acids - it will be easier for the body to fight infections. The Mediterranean diet meets all these requirements. Therefore, it can be used to prevent not only coronavirus, but also other viral diseases.