The Mediterranean diet comprises:
- high monounsaturated (eg olive oil) to saturated (eg fatty red meat) ratio – at least 2:1
- high intake of legumes
- high intake of fruits and vegetables
- high intake of grains and cereals
- moderate quantities of fish, white meat and low-fat dairy
- low to moderate consumption of red wine
- low intake of red meat, processed meat and eggs
- low intake of sweets, sweet desserts and sweet drinks.
Refer to the Consumer resources for food group portion guide.
Simple guidelines for implementing the MedDiet in clinical practice
Assess adherence to a Mediterranean diet using the PREDIMED 14-item Questionnaire. This tool can also be used for monitoring changes at future clinical consultations.
Introduce simple changes to the patient’s diet, such as:
- using olive oil instead of other oils/ fats for cooking and dressing salads and cooked vegetables
- consuming vegetables with every meal (including leafy greens and tomatoes)
- consuming 2–3 serves of fresh fruit per day
- consuming legumes (cooked dried beans) 3 times per week (in salads, soups, casseroles, veggie burgers, falafel)
- having 2–3 serves of fish or seafood per week (at least one oily fish such as salmon or sardines)
- eating at least 3 serves of nuts per week (include walnuts and almonds)
- choosing white meat (poultry without skin or rabbit) instead of fatty processed meats (sausages, burgers) and keep red meat portions small and lean
- choosing natural (unsweetened) yoghurt as snack on most days
- cooking regularly (at least twice a week) with tomato, garlic and onion, and aromatic/culinary herbs as a base for pasta sauces, casseroles and baked dishes.
Discourage consumption of:
- cream, butter, margarine
- processed meats (sausages, salami), fatty meats and poultry skin, deep-fried battered foods
- carbonated and sugared beverages
- pastries, cakes, sweet biscuits and lollies
- processed savoury snacks (potato chips, savoury biscuits)
Provide patient with a suggested meal plan to get them started.
Suggest resources for recipe ideas (Mediterranean cookbooks, websites).
Empower the patient to try new recipes and enjoy meals with family and friends.
Encourage incidental activity such as gardening, walking to local shops for fresh ingredients and preparing meals at home.