What Foods Are Not Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?

May 12 , 2022

A Mediterranean diet is not a specific diet plan, but a way of eating based on diets typically eaten by people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean diet is high in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Olive oil is the main source of fat, and moderate consumption of wine is allowed. It also usually permits low to moderate consumption of fish, poultry, and dairy products, but minimal amounts of red meat.

What to Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet

While the Mediterranean diet is not a strict diet plan, foods that are generally not allowed on the Mediterranean diet include:

1. Processed red meats

  • Hot dogs
  • Bacon
  • Lunch meats
  • Sausage

2. Heavily processed foods

  • Frozen meals that have a lot of sodium
  • Sodas
  • Sugary beverages
  • Sugary desserts
  • Candy
  • Processed cheese

3. Refined grains

  • White bread
  • White pasta
  • Products with white flour

4. Alcohol (other than "red wine")

  • Only drink "red wine"

5. Butter

6. Refined, processed, or hydrogenated oils 

  • Soybean oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Corn oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Canola oil
  • Hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils

What Foods Are Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?

Foods allowed on the Mediterranean diet include: 

Plant foods that are minimally processed and seasonally fresh 

1. Fruits

  • Aim for three servings of fresh fruit daily
  • Poached or fresh fruit is best, which can also be enjoyed as a dessert

  • 2. Vegetables

    • Aim for three to four servings a day
    • Have a salad with each meal
    • Add an extra serving of vegetables to lunch and dinner

    3. Whole Grains

    • Whole-grain pasta
    • Barley
    • Farro
    • Couscous
    • Bulgur
    • Dense, chewy, country-style whole-grain bread loaves without added sugar or butter

    4. Nuts

    • almonds 
    • chestnuts 
    • hazelnuts 
    • pine nuts 
    • pistachios 
    • walnuts

    5. Legumes

    • Aim for at least 3 servings per week
    • Lentils
    • Chickpeas
    • Beans
    • Peas

    6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    7. Cheese (not processed) and low-fat yogurt

    • May consume daily in low to moderate amounts
    • Plain Greek yogurt is recommended

    8. Fish

    • Two to three servings per week
    • Canned and fresh fish are acceptable
    • Prepare grilled; avoid fried fish

    9. Lean Poultry

    • Eat a few times a week in low to moderate amounts
    • 3- to 4-ounce portions

    10. Wine (red) with meals in low to moderate amounts

    • No more than two 5-ounce glasses per day for men, and one glass per day for women

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