What is the 'Mediterranean diet' ??

This pyramid is like a building, the base is the most important to keep it stand. Following these steps from bottom to the top would make a difference on your diet!

A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, France, Greece and Spain.

In Spain, every meal is a time for gathering around the table, at home or at work, where we don´t miss fresh homemade bread and olive oil (our 'liquid gold').

Our heaviest meal is at lunch, where we take our time and we mainly have a salad and homemade dishes cooked with fresh vegetables, rice, pasta or beans, fresh fish or poultry. In the evenings after a healthy snack we try to make the most of our day exercising or doing other activities.. if you are not working! Lighter meals like vegetable dishes are mainly cooked for a late dinner.

Mediterranean cuisine varies by region and has a range of definitions, but is largely based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, cereal grains, olive oil and fish.

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with good health, including a healthier heart. Serveral studies find that people following a Mediterranean diet have lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Click on the underlined words to learn more about scientific evidence).

You can make your diet more Mediterranean-style by:

  • Drinking lots of water (1.5 to 2 litres per day!) and exercising. Avoid driving if you can walk!
  • Including vegetable oils, mainly olive oil as the principal fat replacing other fats and oils including butter or margarine. Try some olive oil on a toast! It´s delicious!
  • Eating plenty of fruit (try them as healthy snacks), vegetables, and plant sources including beans, nuts, seeds and grains.
  • Including wholewheat products, like bread, rice or pasta.
  • Eating MORE fish and LESS read meat (replace it to lean meat, like rabbit or poultry meats!)
  • Choosing products made from vegetable and plant oils.
  • Choosing minimally processed food and, wherever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods (which often maximizes the health-promoting micronutrient and antioxidant content of these foods).
  • Avoiding sugary products.

This includes everything you eat during the day, 5 meals a day including snacks. So, try to stick to these guidelines:

  • Include in your meals wholewheat bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. Choose wholegrain varieties wherever you can, or eat potatoes with their skins on for more fibre.
  • Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. Find out how you can get your 5 A DAY. (Click on the underlined words to find it out).
  • Choose some lean protein, which can be meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources.
  • Include some milk and dairy foods, such as cheese (fresh cheese or less fatty cheese) and yoghurt. These are great sources of protein and calcium.
  • Avoid foods high in fat and/or sugar, or try to eat them less often!

It's a good idea to try to get this balance right every day, but you don't need to do it at every meal. You might find it easier to get the balance right over a longer period, such as over the course of a week.

Use olive oil as the principal fat on your diet.

You can get your 5 a day by choosing fresh and locally grown foods.