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

Imagine living by the Mediterranean. Is it like a beautiful, out-of-touch dream?

While you may not be able to pack your bags and move to Greece, you can enjoy 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 a Mediterranean vacation with extras health benefits for your heart. Here’s everything you need to know about this nutrient-rich, no-holds-barred 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 from the next, the Mediterranean diet consists primarily of plant-based foods, seafood, poultry, whole grains, nuts, beans, olive oil, herbs and spices. The key is to eat as much fresh food as possible since highly processed foods are limited in the diet.

Mediterranean green diet

A recent popular variation of the Mediterranean diet is referred to as the Green Mediterranean diet. Instead of occasionally having red and processed meat with the regular Mediterranean diet, the Green Mediterranean diet cuts out all meat and places more emphasis on plant-based foods. There is a set amount of calories and protein to hit every day, as well as three recommendations. Every day, an individual must receive 100 grams of it Ducks (an aquatic plant, usually added to a shake), 3 to 4 cups of green tea and 1 ounce of walnuts. A 2021 study found that a variation of the Green Mediterranean diet may be healthier for the human heart than the original diet. It may be even more effective in preventing and managing chronic diseases. A 2022 study found that the diet could help with age-related brain health.

Read more: 5 ‘Fitness Snacks’ You Can Start Right Now

Mediterranean diet benefits

In addition to being a great diet for those who are kosher, vegetarian or budget conscious, the Mediterranean diet has many health benefits.

Heart health

The most famous benefit of this diet is its ability to boost heart health. A 2019 study found that the Mediterranean diet could reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Also, due to the lower saturated fat content in the diet, another study found that it could slow down the process of plaque building up in the arteries.

Brain health

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

weight loss is possible

This diet can help you lose weight and maintain long-term weight loss. 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.

Note that no diet is complete without additional exercise. If you are serious about weight loss, add daily exercise to your routine along with 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/Min

The Mediterranean diet is one of the easiest to follow, and there is no need to count calories. Although there are no hard and fast rules, there are some recommendations. These include eating fish or seafood at least twice a week, drinking a lot of water, eating a wide variety of foods and fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and olive oil, daily. In addition to these recommendations, your meals and snacks are up to you. This is what you are encouraged to eat.

foods to eat on the Mediterranean diet

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

  • Fish (salmon, tuna, herring, etc.)
  • Seafood
  • Poultry, in moderation
  • Vegetables
  • Results
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs, in moderation
  • Olive oil
  • chickens
  • Lentils
  • when
  • pasta
  • Yogurt, in moderation
  • Nuts
  • 100% whole wheat bread
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Glass of red wine with meals (no more than one glass for women, two glasses for men)
  • A little dark chocolate

limiting foods on the Mediterranean diet

While there are no foods that are “off limits,” try to eat the following 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 toast with natural peanut butter and a cup of coffee (extra cream and sugar 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 an olive oil vinaigrette dressing


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

Is the Mediterranean diet for you?

A bowl of spaghetti with prawns, asparagus, tomatoes and pesto A bowl of spaghetti with prawns, asparagus, tomatoes and pesto

Getty Images/Westend61/Westend61

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

You should try the Mediterranean diet if:

  • You do well with unrestricted diets
  • You already eat a lot of seafood, plant-based foods and whole grains
  • You are looking for budget friendly food that is low in unhealthy fats and high in healthy fats

Try a different diet or see a dietician if so:

  • You need more structure or you want certain foods to be off limits
  • You have severe food restrictions or allergies
  • You need tailored diet, weight loss and exercise plans

Mediterranean diet FAQs

What is not allowed on the Mediterranean diet?

Technically, no foods are strictly “off limits” to the Mediterranean diet. You should try to cut back or avoid processed foods (especially processed meat), red meat, white bread and pastas, butter, processed oils and excess alcohol (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 not to have more than four egg yolks in a 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 fruit and vegetables on this diet.

Which cheese is right to eat on the Mediterranean diet?

Natural cheeses are best eaten on the Mediterranean diet. Although there are no restrictions, the diet recommends limiting processed cheese. Stay away from highly processed cheeses such as American cheese or cheese-in-a-can. Instead, lean towards natural cheeses such as mozzarella, feta, cheddar, swiss, parmesan or muenster.

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