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How To Start The Mediterranean Diet? {Healthy Diet Plan}

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The Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits

This exotic sounding diet plan is just what it is literally. It is the traditional healthy dietary habits and lifestyle of the people living around the Mediterranean sea and its surrounding regions, such as in the coastal towns and villages of countries like Monaco, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Malta, Greece, Israel, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey and more. Unlike most other diets, the Mediterranean diet is not a modern day invention, but it is the way the people in that region were eating since time immemorial. This is not exactly a weight loss diet per se, however it works just as well as a weight management dietary strategy. 

The Mediterranean diet is best known for its clean well balanced selection of food which include plenty of fresh vegetables, whole grains, seafood, fruits, a swig of red wine now and then and a healthy dose of dietary fats such as the olive oil and omega 3 fatty acid. That is why people on this eating plan are known to have reduced risks of cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancers, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and can even live longer as some advocates of this form of eating earnestly attest to. This is also the reason why this amazingly clean diet is sometimes also known as "The Healthy Heart Diet". The label comes as a no surprise, isn't it?

The main thrust of the diet is to consume more of plant produced foods such as in legumes, nuts, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. These plant based foods are rich in antioxidants that can stave off ravaging free radicals to protect the body as well as providing the youthful anti-aging effects. The diet is thus high in fiber that in turn restricts the rapid absorption of dietary fat and thereby facilitates for smooth bowel movement which detoxifies the body and prevents constipation. The diet is also very kind to the skin as it is chock full of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant and a good friend of the skin. This is very wonderful, don't you think so?

It was reported on January of 2018 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that researchers found out that the Mediterranean diet may protect against human frailty or at least slow down its progressive relentless onslaught on the older folks. Frailty, which mostly affects the more elderly people is defined as physically and mentally vulnerable because of older age and because of this vulnerability, they are more prone to accidental falls resulting in bone fractures and even death, a decreased sense of balance, deterioration of the cardiovascular system, body aches and pains, diminishing physical strength, physical disabilities and functionalities, dementia, amnesia and the frailty list goes on unrelentingly. The report goes on to says that test subjects who were put on the Mediterranean diet for a four year time span were half as likely to become frail as compared to those who were put on the usual meals.

The Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health cited in a reputable publication that "along with regular physical exercise and not smoking, our research suggests that more than 80 percent of heart diseases, about 70 percent of stroke, and up to 90 percent of type 2 diabetes can be avoided by food selections that are consistent with the Mediterranean diet.” Now can you just imagine how many people can be saved from serious medical conditions simply by going with this way of eating lifestyle?

This is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is rated very favorably by nutritionists. It is touted to be one of the most if not the most heart healthy way of eating as the fundamental basis of this way of eating is the consumption of plenty of anti-inflammatory types of food since inflammation is the cause of most diseases including potentially fatal ones.

Unhealthy fats such as saturated fat and trans fat commonly found in butter and margarine are to be abstained from. You can simply swop the unhealthy fats with monounsaturated fats, olive or canola oil. Since bread is staple in the diet, you are eat it plain as it is or just dip it in olive oil for taste but without the butter or margarine. Learn how you are able to lose 23 pounds in 21 days here.

So the idea is not to stay away from dietary fat, but to choose the good ones over the unhealthy ones to consume. The diet's main form of dietary fats comes from olive oil, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids over the bad unhealthy fats. It can then be said that this is one of the reasons why the risks of cardiovascular diseases and strokes are reduced with this eating lifestyle. Does this make sense?

Instead of using manufactured, synthetic and unhealthy substances such as monosodium glutamate (msg), sodium (salt) and refined sugar for taste and seasoning, use spices instead for the same purposes. You may also notice the pattern in the choice of food here is almost similar to that of the the Paleo diet, that is the abandonment of processed and manufactured food.

Red meats are restricted but not in its entirety, so you can eat lean red meat occasionally now and then. White meat such as poultry and fish can be eaten more regularly. After all fish is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Enjoying your wine in moderation is allowed since wine, especially red wine when consumed in moderation is supposed to be good for the heart because red wine contains resveratrol which is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. Polyphenols are well known for its antioxidant properties in staving off the effects of damaging free radicals. With drinking wine factored into the diet, people can still have some fun, have parties and drink to be merry. However if you have a tendency to over indulge in alcohol, then it may be better to stay away from the wine.

A regular exercise program is also encouraged. This is because the traditional folks living around the Mediterranean areas were mostly fishermen and farmers and so they get plenty of exercise from their occupations and daily activities. However, these traditional occupations are fast diminishing as the region gets more developed, industrialized and modernized.

I will not say there are any negative side effects to the Mediterranean Diet per se. However, do take note of the these pertinent issues. 

1) Consume more calcium -  This is because the Mediterranean diet do not have much dairy produce in the meals such as milk, yogurt, cheese and butter. This may result in calcium deficiency which can lead to bone and teeth degeneration. However you can make up for the shortfall of calcium by eating more of calcium rich food and vegetables. You can also take some calcium supplements and go outdoors to enjoy some sunshine to get vitamin D for good calcium synthesis.

2) Drinking wine in moderation - Although drinking red wine in moderation may be good for your health, please do not over indulge. This is because wine contains alcohol and alcohol is full of empty calories. As we know, each gram of alcohol has an equivalent of about 7 calories. Therefore if weight loss is your goal, then drinking too much wine will jeopardize your objective.

Besides, there are many other health negatives concerning over alcohol consumption such as it can increase the risks of certain types of cancers, may cause liver damage, increase memory loss and some may even develop alcohol addiction.

As you can see, the Mediterranean Diet is just simply a lifestyle of eating healthily. It is just avoiding foods that has little or no health benefits and to choose foods that are safe and healthy. So the diet is simply commonsense and will be easy to adapt to.

Choose the Mediterranean Diet lifestyle if you want to maintain good health, prevent chronic diseases and have a healthier and longer life. 

1) Why is the Mediterranean diet often rated to be one of the best and healthiest diet plan? Is it overrated?


There is a huge plethora of diet plans out there and so it is difficult to finger out which of those diets can be the best and healthiest. However, the Mediterranean diet can arguably and reasonably compete for such a lofty claim since in 2015, the USDA Dietary Guidelines and the Dietary Guidelines advisory committee announced that the Mediterranean diet is one of the three diets in improving long term health benefits.

Although the Mediterranean diet is not specifically tailored for weight loss purpose, it can still be very effective for losing weight and in the maintenance of it. Furthermore how much more healthier can any diet can get since the Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on healthy food sources such as eating fresh and unprocessed foods, high fiber plant foods, lean meats, healthy dietary fats and an occasional swig of wine. Although this diet is a tad high in dietary fat content, the negative aspects of fat consumption is effectively negated since the fats in the diet are from "healthy"  sources such as olive oil, omega-3 and mono-unsaturated fats.

Also because the diet advocates the avoidance of refined sugar and high glycemic index carbohydrates, it actually does reduce the dieter's caloric consumption and as such, leading to weight loss for some people. Furthermore, the Mediterranean Diet do indeed have evidence that it can help to lower the risks of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, certain forms of cancers and of course, obesity.

2) Can you give some examples of what I can do to switch to this way of eating?

First of all, use your imagination. For instance, think of what you are eating daily on a regular basis and how you can switch, mix and match some of the ingredients to conform to the Mediterranean way of eating. Here are just a few suggestions of which you can try them out for yourself.

a) Use herbs and spices to flavor your foods instead of adding any salt, sugar, msg or artificial flavorings.

b) Prepare and cook your food with olive or canola oil instead of the regular brands which are usually high in trans fat and unhealthy fat such as saturated fat. 

c) Add white meat such as fish, turkey or chicken breast to your sandwiches instead of streaky bacon or other red meat.

d) Use olive oil with fragrant herbs to dip your bread in instead of spreading it with mayonnaise, butter or margarine.​


​e) Sprinkle your mixed salads with seeds, olive oil, nuts and apple cider vinegar instead of using bacon crumbs, cheese flakes or gooey salad dressings such as the thousand island dressing.

f) Instead of eating white rice and white bread, why not replace them with the healthier brown rice and whole grain bread?

​g) As for desserts, pamper your sweet tooth with fruits and throw out the pastries and ice creams.

h) Yes, although red meat is occasionally allowed in the diet, the preference is to consume more fish, seafood, eggs and poultry over pork, mutton and beef. The Mediterranean diet is all about making a healthier choice in your food selection. It is as simple as that. 

Mediterranean diet meal plan table

A typical Mediterranean diet meal plan pyramid chart

Are There Any Side Effects?

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (Q&A)

In this video, watch the Mediterranean Diet as explained by Dr Mehmet Oz, a Turkish-American cardiothoracic surgeon. Turkey is located in the Mediterranean region.

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