Mediterranean Diet

  • Author:
    Betty Kovacs Harbolic, MS, RD

    Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick Guide12 Reasons to Love the Mediterranean Diet in Pictures

12 Reasons to Love the Mediterranean Diet in Pictures

What is a meal plan for the Mediterranean diet?

The best part of the Mediterranean diet is that you have options. There is not one food that does everything. Instead, it's all of the foods, herbs, and spices that give you the health benefits. You don't have to consume it all at once or take any magic pill. You can make choices throughout your day in what you eat, how you season your foods, and how you prepare things. Everything that you do will count.

The Mediterranean food pyramid gives you a guideline for developing your own meal plan:

Your calorie needs will determine how much of each of these you will consume. On average, their intake is:

Daily intake is an average of the following:

  • Fruits: 4 to 6 servings
  • Vegetables: 2 to 3 servings
  • Unrefined cereal, and cereal and bread products: all these are consumed daily
  • Nonfat or low-fat dairy: 1 to 2 servings
  • Olive oil: main added fat
  • Wine: 1 to 2 glasses
  • Garlic, onions, herbs, and spices: much use

Weekly intake is an average of the following:

  • Fish: 4 or 5 servings
  • Olives, pulses, and nuts: more than 4 servings
  • Potatoes: 4 or 5 servings
  • Cheese and yogurt: in moderation
  • Eggs: 1 to 4 servings
  • Sweets: 1 to 3 servings monthly
  • Red meat and meat products: 4 to 5 servings

You can set your goals to slowly make these changes. Using garlic when you cook, changing over to a couple of fish-based meals per week, using legumes in your meals a couple of times a week, limiting processed foods, and adding capers to your salads, meats, and sauces are great ways to begin. This goes beyond any "diet" that you go on and then go off when you are done. It's about being aware of getting more nutrients from food and feeding your health.

Medically reviewed by a Board-Certified Family Practice Physician


Bektas, N., et al. "Investigation for anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic activities of methanol extract of Capparis ovata buds and fruits." J Ethnopharmacol 142.1 June 2012: 48-52.

Bouchenak, M. "Nutritional quality of legumes, and their role in cardiometabolic risk prevention: a review." J Med Food Feb. 2013.

Carlsen, M.H. Nutr J 22.9 Jan. 2010: 1-11.

Cavagnaro, P.F., et al. "Effect of cooking on garlic (Allium sativum L.) antiplatelet activity and thiosulfinates content." J Agric Food Chem 55.4 Feb. 2007: 1280-1288.

Cavagnaro, P.F., and C.R. Galmarini. "Effect of processing and cooking conditions on onion (Allium cepa L.) induced antiplatelet activity and thiosulfinate content." J Agric Food Chem 60.35 Sept. 2012: 8731-8737.

Chan, D.S., et al. "Red and processed meat and colorectal cancer incidence: meta-analysis of prospective studies." PLoS One 6.6 (2011): e20456.

Chan, J.Y., et al. "A Review of the Cardiovascular Benefits and Antioxidant Properties of Allicin." Phytother Res Aug. 2012.

Chiva-Blanch, G., et al. "Effects of Wine, Alcohol and Polyphenols on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: Evidences from Human Studies." Alcohol and Alcoholism Feb. 2013: 1-8.

Cicerale S., et al. "Antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phenolic activities in extra virgin olive oil." Curr Opin Biotechnol 23.2 Apr. 2012: 129-135.

Dajas, F. "Life or death: neuroprotective and anticancer effects of quercetin." J Ethnopharmacol 143.2 Sept. 2012: 383-96.

De Lorgeril, M., and P. Salen. "Mediterranean diet and n-3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease." J Cardiovasc Med (Hagerstown) 8.1 Sept. 2007: S38-41.

Feskens, E.J. "Meat consumption, diabetes, and its complications." Curr Diab Rep 13.2 Apr. 2013: 298-306.

Fetterman, J., and M.M. Zdanowicz. "Therapeutic potential of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in disease." Am J Health Syst Pharm 66 July 2009: 1169-1179.

García-López, M. Eur J Prev Cardio Nov 2012: 1-7.

Güttler, N. Cardiol Res Pract 2012 Dec. 2012: 1-11.

Haber, B. "The Mediterranean diet: a view from history." Am J Clin Nutr 66.4 Oct. 1997: 1053S-1057S.

Kaluza, J., et al. "Red meat consumption and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective studies." Stroke 43.10 Oct. 2012: 2556-60.

Khalatbary, A.R. Nutr Neurosci Feb. 2013.

Larsson, S.C., and A. Wolk. "Red and processed meat consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer: meta-analysis of prospective studies." Br J Cancer 106.3 Jan. 2012: 603-607.

Mariani-Costantini A, Nutrition, Jul-Aug 2000;vol 16(7-8):pp 483-6.

Martínez-González MA, J Nutr, Sept 2012;vol 142(9):pp 1672-8.

Martorana M, Fitoterapia. Mar 2013;vol 85:pp 41-8.

McKeown PP, Proc Nutr Soc, Feb 2010;vol 69(1):pp 45-60.

Owen RW, Eur J Cancer Prev, Aug 2004;vol 13(4):pp 319-26.

Pellegrini N, J Nutr, Sep 2003;vol 133(9):pp 2812-9.

Pellegrini N, Mol Nutr Food Res, Nov 2006;vol 50(11):pp 1030-8.

Ramirez-Tortosa MC, J Nutr, Dec 1999;vol 129(12):pp 2177-83.

Siriwardhana N, Adv Food Nutr Res, 2012;vol 65:pp 211-212.

Skouroliakou M, J Med Food, Oct 2009;vol 12(5):pp 1105-10.

Sofi F, BMJ, Sep 2008;vol 337(a1344):pp 1-7.

Tlili N, Fitoterapia, Mar 2011;vol 82(2):pp 93-101.

Tomaino A, Biochimie, Sep 2010;vol 92(9):pp 1115-22.

Traka MH, Plant Cell, Jul 2011;vol 23(7):pp 2483-97.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Weight Loss/Healthy Living Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors