Healthy Fats, Oils and Vinegars
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
For starters, make sure you have a good quality extra virgin olive oil because almost all Mediterranean diet recipes start with olive oil. You’ll want to get an extra virgin olive oil that is first pressed and really extra virgin. To test if it’s a good quality extra virgin olive oil, drink a teaspoon of the oil and wait ten seconds.
You should get a peppery burn in the back of your throat, which means it is highly anti-inflammatory. Only high-quality extra virgin olive oils will give the peppery burn, which means they are fresh, and produced from the first pressing of the olives.
After you have good oil, next is making foods that use lots of fresh vegetables, dark leafy greens, and beans and legumes. Here is list of all the vegetables you can eat on the Mediterranean Diet:
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. They’re also a key part of the Mediterranean diet food list. Here are some of the most common nuts and seeds you can add to your Mediterranean cuisine:
- Pine Nuts
- Sesame Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to your food without adding any extra calories. They’re also packed with antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.
- Bay Leaves
- Red Pepper Flakes
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are great sources of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They’re also very versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes.
- Split Peas
- Broad Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Green Beans
- Black Beans
- Black Eyed Beans
Cheese and Fermented Dairy
Cheese and fermented dairy are staples in the Mediterranean diet. They’re a great source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients. Just keep in mind that cheese is also high in fat, so it should be eaten in moderation.
- Feta Cheese
Greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re also very versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes.
- Broccoli Rabe
- Beet Greens
- Collard Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
Whole Grains, Rice and Pasta
Whole grains should always be used instead of processed grains and white flour bread. The flavor of these fresh ingredients is enhanced by extra virgin olive oil.
Whether raw on a salad, sautéed, baked, or even deep-fried, this healthy fat is used for all cooking purposes in the Mediterranean diet. When you’re shopping for these foods, avoid any “diet, lite, low-calorie, and low-fat” products.
- Whole Wheat
- Bulgur Wheat
Although you don’t need to eat meat every day, it is still a part of the Mediterranean diet food list. When choosing meat, make sure to choose lean cuts of grass-fed beef, pork, and lamb. Grass-fed meat is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants than grain-fed meat.
- Grass Fed Beef
- Grass Fed Pork
- Grass Fed Chicken
- Organic Eggs
Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood are excellent sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients.
- Sardines and Anchovies
- Sea Bass
- Mussels and Clams
- Shrimps and Prawns
- Fresh Juice
Coffee is drunk all day long and is a social event. A coffee with friends can last up to 3 hours. People of the Mediterranean drink caffeinated coffee past 9 p.m. and rarely drink decaf. The usually stay out very late and early into the morning socializing, so a coffee this late isn’t strange to them.
Wine is very important and is drunk with lunch and dinner. Red wine is preferred over white because of its anti-oxidants, but white is widely consumed as well.
Another thing that is drunk every day is local aperitifs, such as raki (moonshine), ouzo, tsipouro, and many others, depending on the country. These are usually served with dessert and the Mediterranean people believe that these aperitifs help with digestion.
You might be wondering: If the people are drinking this much, how can this be healthy? For starters, they always have alcohol with food. Sipping slowly and enjoying the wine over a 2-3 hour meal is how they savor and appreciate their wine.
They are also drinking in a social way with friends and family, where getting drunk is not socially acceptable. Since ancient Greek times, the people in the Mediterranean have drunk socially and looked down upon getting embarrassingly drunk in the presence of friends and family.
It is all about socializing with good people and food, and not abusing the alcohol. Drinking in this way actually improves your health and overall well-being.
If you don’t drink, don’t worry, the health benefits of alcohol can be found by drinking grape juice, eating grapes or exercising. There are plenty of people in the Mediterranean who don’t drink at all.