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 Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet

A Mediterranean diet refers to food and lifestyle choices that are based on the traditions of countries located on the Mediterranean Sea. This way of eating has been shown to help prevent certain conditions and improve outcomes for people who have chronic diseases, like kidney disease and heart disease.

What are tips for following this plan?


  • Cook and eat meals together with your family, when possible.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.
  • Be physically active every day. This includes:
    • Aerobic exercise like running or swimming.
    • Leisure activities like gardening, walking, or housework.
  • Get 7–8 hours of sleep each night.
  • If recommended by your health care provider, drink red wine in moderation. This means 1 glass a day for nonpregnant women and 2 glasses a day for men. A glass of wine equals 5 oz (150 mL).

Reading food labels

  • Check the serving size of packaged foods. For foods such as rice and pasta, the serving size refers to the amount of cooked product, not dry.
  • Check the total fat in packaged foods. Avoid foods that have saturated fat or trans fats.
  • Check the ingredients list for added sugars, such as corn syrup.


  • At the grocery store, buy most of your food from the areas near the walls of the store. This includes:
    • Fresh fruits and vegetables (produce).
    • Grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Some of these may be available in unpackaged forms or large amounts (in bulk).
    • Fresh seafood.
    • Poultry and eggs.
    • Low-fat dairy products.
  • Buy whole ingredients instead of prepackaged foods.
  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in-season from local farmers markets.
  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables in resealable bags.
  • If you do not have access to quality fresh seafood, buy precooked frozen shrimp or canned fish, such as tuna, salmon, or sardines.
  • Buy small amounts of raw or cooked vegetables, salads, or olives from the deli or salad bar at your store.
  • Stock your pantry so you always have certain foods on hand, such as olive oil, canned tuna, canned tomatoes, rice, pasta, and beans.


  • Cook foods with extra-virgin olive oil instead of using butter or other vegetable oils.
  • Have meat as a side dish, and have vegetables or grains as your main dish. This means having meat in small portions or adding small amounts of meat to foods like pasta or stew.
  • Use beans or vegetables instead of meat in common dishes like chili or lasagna.
  • Experiment with different cooking methods. Try roasting or broiling vegetables instead of steaming or sautéeing them.
  • Add frozen vegetables to soups, stews, pasta, or rice.
  • Add nuts or seeds for added healthy fat at each meal. You can add these to yogurt, salads, or vegetable dishes.
  • Marinate fish or vegetables using olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh herbs.

Meal planning

  • Plan to eat 1 vegetarian meal one day each week. Try to work up to 2 vegetarian meals, if possible.
  • Eat seafood 2 or more times a week.
  • Have healthy snacks readily available, such as:
    • Vegetable sticks with hummus.
    • Greek yogurt.
    • Fruit and nut trail mix.
  • Eat balanced meals throughout the week. This includes:
    • Fruit: 2–3 servings a day
    • Vegetables: 4–5 servings a day
    • Low-fat dairy: 2 servings a day
    • Fish, poultry, or lean meat: 1 serving a day
    • Beans and legumes: 2 or more servings a week
    • Nuts and seeds: 1–2 servings a day
    • Whole grains: 6–8 servings a day
    • Extra-virgin olive oil: 3–4 servings a day
  • Limit red meat and sweets to only a few servings a month

What are my food choices?

  • Mediterranean diet
    • Recommended
      • Grains: Whole-grain pasta. Brown rice. Bulgar wheat. Polenta. Couscous. Whole-wheat bread. Oatmeal. Quinoa.
      • Vegetables: Artichokes. Beets. Broccoli. Cabbage. Carrots. Eggplant. Green beans. Chard. Kale. Spinach. Onions. Leeks. Peas. Squash. Tomatoes. Peppers. Radishes.
      • Fruits: Apples. Apricots. Avocado. Berries. Bananas. Cherries. Dates. Figs. Grapes. Lemons. Melon. Oranges. Peaches. Plums. Pomegranate.
      • Meats and other protein foods: Beans. Almonds. Sunflower seeds. Pine nuts. Peanuts. Cod. Salmon. Scallops. Shrimp. Tuna. Tilapia. Clams. Oysters. Eggs.
      • Dairy: Low-fat milk. Cheese. Greek yogurt.
      • Beverages: Water. Red wine. Herbal tea.
      • Fats and oils: Extra virgin olive oil. Avocado oil. Grape seed oil.
      • Sweets and desserts: Greek yogurt with honey. Baked apples. Poached pears. Trail mix.
      • Seasoning and other foods: Basil. Cilantro. Coriander. Cumin. Mint. Parsley. Sage. Rosemary. Tarragon. Garlic. Oregano. Thyme. Pepper. Balsalmic vinegar. Tahini. Hummus. Tomato sauce. Olives. Mushrooms.
    • Limit these
      • Grains: Prepackaged pasta or rice dishes. Prepackaged cereal with added sugar.
      • Vegetables: Deep fried potatoes (french fries).
      • Fruits: Fruit canned in syrup.
      • Meats and other protein foods: Beef. Pork. Lamb. Poultry with skin. Hot dogs. Bacon.
      • Dairy: Ice cream. Sour cream. Whole milk.
      • Beverages: Juice. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Beer. Liquor and spirits.
      • Fats and oils: Butter. Canola oil. Vegetable oil. Beef fat (tallow). Lard.
      • Sweets and desserts: Cookies. Cakes. Pies. Candy.
      • Seasoning and other foods: Mayonnaise. Premade sauces and marinades.
    The items listed may not be a complete list. Talk with your dietitian about what dietary choices are right for you.


  • The Mediterranean diet includes both food and lifestyle choices.
  • Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Limit the amount of red meat and sweets that you eat.
  • Talk with your health care provider about whether it is safe for you to drink red wine in moderation. This means 1 glass a day for nonpregnant women and 2 glasses a day for men. A glass of wine equals 5 oz (150 mL).

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.