The Mediterranean Diet explained


  4 Minutes

The Mediterranean Diet is far more than just a diet. It was listed by UNESCO on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. It celebrates everything that the mediterranean countries have woven so richly into their fabric since the beginning of time, and produce so effortlessly into their food. It’s a way of life.

The Mediterranean Diet is scientifically proven to reduce the risk of chronic diseases by lowering bad cholesterol, protecting the health of the heart and promoting longevity. It is also shown to reduce the risk of acquiring certain cancers and diabetes. The published studies highlight its benefits above other fad diets. The evidence on this way of eating is impressive and continues to grow. That’s because the Mediterranean Diet has stood the test of time.

It embraces plant-based wholefoods that are in season and it discourages anything that causes systemic inflammation, upsets the health of the gut’s microbiome or creates an imbalance in the body’s natural pH levels. Eating a colourful plate of food that pleases the eye as much as it pleases the tastebuds is what counts, not the calories. It discourages the use of too much salt.

This diet also promotes gentle exercise such as walking, cycling, swimming, and stretching for 30 minutes a day which is about 2% of a 24-hour day. It might just be the secret for the long term management of cholesterol and cardiovascular health in general.

It also advocates drinking at least 1.5 to 2 litres of good quality water every day as the primary beverage. All other drinks such as fruit juices, fizzy drinks and anything unnatural should be avoided all together or limited to an occasion only. Wine is the preferred alcoholic beverage at two glasses maximum a day for men and one glass a day for women.

Top tip: Learn more about how to live a longer, healthier, and happier life from our team of experts in this article.

Did you know?

The recommended Mediterranean Diet foods include:

The Mediterranean Diet food pyramid simplified

Mediterranean Diet Shopping List Items Living Naturally Recommends


Barley, brown rice, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, quinoa, rolled oats, popcorn, wholewheat flour, wholegrain breakfast cereals and wholewheat pasta.

Sourdough bread is encouraged and to be enjoyed with olive oil and not butter, butter spreads or margarine.

Daily servings at 50% of every meal.


A selection of what is in season.

These are high in antioxidants.

Avoid canned fruit that is preserved in sugar.

X5 servings per day.


A selection of what is in season for extra nutrients – careful to avoid starchy vegetables.

X5 servings per day.
Top tip: Learn more about leafy green vegetables called cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and spinach as well as a variety of salads in this article.


Black beans, broad beans, butterbeans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, red beans, and white beans.

Tinned beans are allowed and need to be low in brine, salt and sugar.

Chickpeas, green beans and lentils may be used instead.

Daily servings.

Raw and unsalted nuts:

A variety of nuts such as chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts.

Almonds and cashews are seeds while peanuts are legumes. Living Naturally recommends almonds.

X5 servings per week.

(a handful).


Oily fish that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids including salmon and sardines.

X2 servings a week.


Chicken and turkey (not deep-fried).

X2 servings a week.


Moderate amounts of eggs, preferably organic and free range.

X4 servings a week.


Red or white wine.

X1 serving per day or less.

Red meat:

For non-vegetarians opt for lean cuts of red meat including beef, pork, lamb, and low salt products made from these meats.

X4 servings per month and not more than x2 servings per week.


Foods made with cow’s milk such as certain cheeses, cream and butter.

X2 small servings daily.

Crisps, candies, pastries, sweets:

All baked and deep-fried floury goods made with refined white flour, sugar, saturated fats and salt, including things like cookies, potato chips, sugary candies, dairy ice-cream, donuts, cakes, and roasted and salted nuts.

X2 servings per week or less.

Olive oil:

Avoid using other cooking oils and consider serving only olive oil with every meal.


The Mediterranean Diet does not make an indication of the suggested portion sizes.

In addition to simply following the Mediterranean Diet, you can do more by adding in the additional requirements described by the Portfolio Diet. This ‘bolt-on’ module in addition to the Mediterranean Diet foundation can lower bad cholesterol by up to 30%.

Top tip: Learn more about cholesterol in this article or listen to the podcast.

Living Naturally has a dedicated helpline to see you through every season of your life. Feel free to get in touch on:
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Yours in good health,
The Living Naturally Team


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