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What Is the Mediterranean Diet? Food List, Meal Plan, Benefits, More

What Is the Mediterranean Diet? Food List, Meal Plan, Benefits, More

  • August 01, 2020
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When you’re looking to start to follow the Mediterranean diet, you’ll rely heavily on the following foods. While this is not a calorie-counting plan, we’ve included nutrition stats for your reference:

Olive Oil

Per Tablespoon Serving 120 calories, 0 grams (g) protein, 13g fat, 2g saturated fat, 10g monounsaturated fat, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugar
Benefits Replacing foods high in saturated fats (like butter) with plant sources high in monounsaturated fatty acids, like olive oil, may help lower the risk of heart disease by 19 percent, according research — including an article published in March 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (7,8)

Tomatoes

Per 1 cup, Chopped Serving 32 calories, 1.5g protein, 0g fat, 7g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 5g sugar

Benefits It packs lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers, like prostate and breast. Other components in tomatoes may help reduce the risk of blood clots, thereby protecting against cardiovascular disease, according to a review published in December 2013 in the journal Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. (9,10)

Salmon 

Per 3 oz Serving 133 calories, 22g protein, 5g fat, 0g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 0g sugar

Benefits The fatty fish is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids. For good heart health, the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two fish meals per week, particularly fatty fish like salmon. (11,12)

Walnuts 

Per 1 oz (14 Halves) Serving 185 calories, 4g protein, 18g fat, 2g saturated fat, 3g monounsaturated fat, 13g polyunsaturated fat, 4g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g sugar

Benefits Rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, these nuts may also favorably impact your gut microbiome (and thus improve digestive health), as well as lower LDL cholesterol, according to a study published in May 2018 in the Journal of Nutrition. (13,14)

Chickpeas 

Per 1 Cup Serving 269 calories, 15g protein, 4g fat, 45g carbohydrate, 13g fiber, 8g sugar

Benefits The main ingredient in hummus, chickpeas pack an impressive amount of fiber (more than half of a woman’s 25 g daily quota), as well as iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium, according to a paper published in November 2014 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. (15,16) The stats above are for a whole cup, but you only need ½ cup per day to reap the benefits.

More on Healthy, Nutrient-Packed Foods

Arugula 

Per 1 Cup Serving 5 calories, 0.5g protein, 0g fat, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugar

Benefits Leafy greens, like arugula, are eaten in abundance under this eating approach. Mediterranean-like diets that include frequent (more than six times a week) consumption of leafy greens have been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in September 2015 in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia. (17,18)

Pomegranate 

Per ½ Cup Serving (arils) 72 calories, 1.5g protein, 1g fat, 16g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 12g sugar

Benefits: This fruit, in all its bright red glory, packs powerful polyphenols that act as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It’s also been suggested that pomegranates may have anti-cancer properties, too, according to a paper published in March 2014 in the journal Advanced Biomedical Research. (19,20)

Lentils 

Per ½ Cup Serving 115 calories, 9g protein, 0g fat, 20g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 2g sugar

Benefits One small study published in April 2018 in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that swapping one-half of your serving of high-glycemic starches (like rice) with lentils helps lower blood glucose by 20 percent. (21,22)

Farro 

Per ¼ Cup (Uncooked) Serving 200 calories, 7g protein. 1.5g fat, 37g carbs, 7g fiber, 0g sugar

Benefits Whole grains like farro are a staple of this diet. This grain offers a stellar source of satiating fiber and protein. Eating whole grains is associated with a reduced risk of a host of disease, like stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal cancer. (23,24)

Greek Yogurt 

Per 7-oz Container (Low-Fat Plain) 146 calories, 20g protein, 4g fat, 2g saturated fat, 1g monounsaturated fat, 0g polyunsaturated fat, 8g carbs, 0g fiber, 7g sugar

Benefits Dairy is eaten in limited amounts, but these foods serve to supply an excellent source of calcium. Opting for low- or nonfat versions decreases the amount of saturated fat you’re consuming. (25,26)

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