This List of Foods You Can Eat on the Mediterranean Diet Proves It's Not Really a Diet

POPSUGAR Photography | Maria del Rio
POPSUGAR Photography | Maria del Rio

If you feel like you've heard about the Mediterranean diet a lot lately, you're not wrong. It was named the best diet of the year for what feels like the thousandth time and for good reason. Not only has the Mediterranean diet been proven effective for weight loss, but it can also reduce your risk for heart disease and even help you live longer. And as more dieters move away from more restrictive plans, a diet that allows you to eat carbs and drink wine will undoubtedly only grow in popularity.

In fact, the Mediterranean diet feels less like a diet than a lifestyle. "The diet is rooted in enjoyment of eating and staying active," Elissa Goldman, MS, RD, LDN, founder of Nutrition by Elissa in Arlington, MA, told POPSUGAR. "Rather than counting or restricting a food group, the Mediterranean diet encourages the addition and consumption of whole foods."

If you're thinking of giving it a go, you're in luck — Elissa gave us some suggestions for what you can (and should) eat on the Mediterranean diet, right ahead.

Getty | fcafotodigital


Eating an abundance of vegetables is key to the Mediterranean diet. However, starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, should be eaten in moderation.

  • Leafy greens like kale, arugula, swiss chard, and spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Leeks
  • Artichokes
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
Getty | MirageC


Fruits can be eaten fresh, frozen, and even canned, as long as they're canned in their own natural juices.

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Pomegranate
  • Melon
Healthy Fats

Healthy Fats

"The Mediterranean diet emphasises consumption of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats," Elissa told POPSUGAR. "These monounsaturated fats help to decrease LDL or the 'lousy' cholesterol that we want to keep 'low.'" Keep less virtuous fats, such as milk, cheese, and eggs, to no more than three servings per week.

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
Whole Grains
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Whole Grains

Love breads and pasta? You're in luck. With the Mediterranean diet, you won't have to sacrifice these tasty carbs. Just avoid processed foods and refined sugars.

  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain bread
  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Farro
  • Teff
  • Rye
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Legumes provide extra protein to dishes while also acting as a great source of fiber.

  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Green beans
  • Fava beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Kidney beans
Nuts and Seeds
Unsplash | Vitchakorn Koonyosying

Nuts and Seeds

While you should stay away from nutty snacks that are packed with sugar, plain nuts and nut butters are a key part of the plan. Spread the nut butter on whole-grain toast or fruit for a quick, healthy snack.

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pecans
  • Chestnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Brazil nuts
Fish and Seafood
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Fish and Seafood

Fish and seafood are a central part of the Mediterranean diet. Elissa recommends you eat at least two servings per week.

  • Salmon
  • Albacore tuna
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Shellfish
In Moderation: Other Lean Proteins
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In Moderation: Other Lean Proteins

When you're not eating fish or seafood, reach for other fresh, lean proteins like the ones listed below. Eat small servings of red meat sparingly, if at all, as it's been linked with heart disease.

  • Poultry, including skinless chicken, duck, geese, turkey, and pheasant
  • Egg whites
Herbs and Spices
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Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices can be used to dress up seafood and vegetables and are much better choices than salt and sugar.

  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Capers
  • Anise
  • Bay leaves
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Oregano