Mediterranean Diet - what is it and why do we recommend it?

Several studies have documented that people in the Mediterranean countries have a longer and healthier life than do those in other industrialized countries, despite the high prevalence of smoking and gaps in health services available to them. This has been attributed to several cultural and behavioural differences between the populations, as well as special dietary characteristics.

This diet has been associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease due to a reduction in many of the cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure, weight, platelet stickiness, inflammation (CRP), homocysteine and white blood cell counts. It has also been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, Alzheimers Disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. While fertility, asthma control and health related quality of life are improved with higher adherence to the diet.

The diet is predominantly whole food plant-based, with only 10%of foods coming from animal sources. The bulk of the diet consists of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices, with small amounts of animal proteins (mostly fish). Olive oil is the main source of fat, with 2-3 tablespoons recommended per day.

The Mediterranean diet typically has a high ratio of omega 3:omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, is low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fats. The total fat levels may be high (40% of total energy from fat), but the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat is about 2:1. It has an abundance of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. It also includes one coffee per day.

The Mediterranean diet plan:


Unrefined grains (whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice), 4-6 serves of fruit, 4-6 serves of vegetables, 1 serve low fat dairy products, 1 glass wine (with at least 2 alcohol free days per week), olive oil as the main source of fat.


4-6 serves legumes, 4-6 serves nuts, 4-6 serves potatoes and olives, 4 serves fish, 1-2 serves poultry


1-2 serves red meat, 1-2 serves eggs



Mediterranean Diet Menu options:


  • Mix ½ cup oats with ½ cup soy milk and leave in fridge overnight. In the morning add 2 tbsp chopped nuts and seeds, 1 tbsp low fat yoghurt, ½ cup berries
  • Tomatoes, cucumber, low fat feta, olives, olive oil, herbs, whole meal bread, 1 piece fruit
  • 1 tbsp low fat yoghurt, ½ cup brown rice, 1 cup fruit salad
  • Green smoothie with nuts, veges and fruits


  • Whole meal bread with tuna or hummus and tomato and salad
  • Soup made with olive oil, garlic, tomato, vegetables, barley, chickpeas/kidney beans/lentils
  • Whole meal pitta bread with falafel, hoummos, cucumber, tomato, green salad
  • Fish steamed with soy sauce and ginger with brown rice and vegetables
  • Fish cooked in olive oil with vegetables including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, capsicum, mushrooms, zucchini
  • Chicken casserole with olive oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, barley.
  • Chickpeas cooked with olive oil, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, vegetables. Served with brown rice
  • Tofu stir fried with lots of garlic with oy sauce, veges and brown rice


  • 1 piece fruit
  • Handful of olives
  • Dark chocolate x20g
  • Hoummous with vege sticks

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