Why is the mediterranean diet so healthy?

If you want to make changes to your meal plan, try the Mediterranean diet. It is simple, light, easily accessible and – above all – has health benefits. Why is that? Find out below.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The term ‘Mediterranean diet’ appeared in medical literature in the 1950s., coined by Dr. Ancel Keys, who used it to describe the diets of selected populations in the Mediterranean region [1]. Subsequent studies and rankings have left no doubt – it is among the healthiest diets in the world [11].

Characteristics of the Mediterranean diet [10]:

  • As many vegetables and fruits as possible are introduced into the menu, as well as nuts and legumes. You consume a large number of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach.
  • Olive oil (preferably extra virgin) is usually added to meals.
  • Consumption of meat and dairy products is reduced, while fish and seafood consumption is increased.
  • Nowadays, attention is paid to minimising alcohol consumption. It is permissible to drink red wine with meals in moderation.
  • The Mediterranean diet recommends eating cereals, as well as complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrain pasta and bread, brown rice, etc.
  • The Mediterranean diet also includes regular physical activity, which is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet is universal and advisable for any healthy person who wants to take care of themselves on a daily basis. However, it can be problematic for people with stomach diseases and food allergies. So if you experience negative effects after eating raw products such as fruit and vegetables, be sure to consult your doctor. Remember to choose your diet individually.

Mediterranean diet – advantages and disadvantages

The Mediterranean diet is one of the best researched diets in the world. Studies unequivocally show that the dietary choices of people from the Mediterranean region minimise the risk of ischaemic heart disease (and all cardiovascular diseases), as well as reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer [2]. Let’s take a closer look at the most important benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

  1. High nutritional value

A diet rich in plant products has high nutritional value and fibre content. Recent studies show that regular consumption of fruit and vegetables has a positive impact on a person’s quality of life and well-being [3].

  1. Lower mortality rate

Mediterranean diet allows you to live longer! Many studies have been carried out on the subject. One of them reads: “We found that people with closer adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet, as indicated by the Mediterranean diet score, had lower overall mortality. Specifically, (...) was associated with a statistically significant 14% lower overall mortality” [4].

  1. Lower risk of overweight

Studies have unequivocally confirmed that people who follow the Mediterranean diet are far less likely to suffer from obesity. The Mediterranean diet includes mainly plant-based products, making it easier to take care of the figure and is advisable during weight loss [5].

  1. Better immunity

The Mediterranean diet has a direct impact on our immunity, as it is rich in polyphenols (antioxidant compounds), vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. Thanks to them, inflammation occurs less often in the body. In turn, fibre intake benefits the gut microbiota, and a healthy gut translates into high immunity [6].

  1. Health also at a later age

The Mediterranean diet is a chance for us to age healthily. This diet reduces the risk of kidney and lung diseases, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease [7].

  1. Healthy heart

Scientific research shows that the Mediterranean diet has a beneficial effect on the entire cardiovascular system and minimises the risk of cardiovascular diseases [8].

Does the Mediterranean diet have drawbacks? It is worth looking at portion sizes and calories. Avoid the ‘you eat as much as you want’ rule, even if vegetables are the basis of your meals [8]. Excess always does harm! Also pay attention to how you compose your meals. The idea is not to add olive oil to everything, but to spread the carbohydrate and fat intake in the diet wisely. If in doubt, you can consult a dietitian.

Medicinal properties of olive oil

When discussing the merits of the Mediterranean diet, it is also worth analysing the properties of olive oil, which – along with vegetables – is the most characteristic element of this approach to nutrition. How does olive oil support our health? [9]

  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.
  • Lowers bad cholesterol levels.
  • Supports the process of weight loss, helps to ensure a slim figure.
  • Contributes to the proper functioning of the heart and brain.
  • Reduces the risk of inflammation in the body.

Olive oil is best consumed in its raw form, so as an addition to salads, pasta, dressings, marinades, etc.

Mediterranean diet – recipes for the whole week

Did you know that the European Union started financing the MEDIET4ALL project in 2023, which promotes the Mediterranean diet as a way to a healthy lifestyle? This is further proof that it is worth basing your diet plan on it. Below you will find meal suggestions for the whole day.

Mediterranean diet – breakfasts:

  1. Wholemeal bread sandwiches with green lettuce and guacamole paste (avocado, lemon juice, salt), served with chives and cherry tomatoes.
  2. Oatmeal with seasonal fruit and plant-based milk.
  3. Wholemeal bread with hummus and fresh vegetables: lettuce, red peppers, radishes and tomato.
  4. A fried egg served on lettuce with fresh vegetables, topped with olive oil. Plus a slice of wholemeal bread.
  5. Mackerel paste served with wholemeal bread and fresh vegetables.
  6. Bruschetta roasted with mozzarella cheese and tomato, drizzled with olive oil-based basil pesto.
  7. Tortilla roasted in a skillet with vegetables: avocado, iceberg lettuce, red onion, peppers and tofu.

Mediterranean diet – lunches:

  1. Salad mix served with chickpeas, feta cheese and your favourite vegetables. Plus a dressing based on olive oil.
  2. Roast salmon served with buckwheat groats and salad (spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, dressing).
  3. Spaghetti bolognese made from ground chicken breast, prepared with tomato sauce. To garnish, fresh basil and olive oil.
  4. Wholegrain pasta served with oven-grilled vegetables (peppers, zucchini, eggplant) and shrimps. All topped with olive oil and sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Salad made of millet groats, lamb’s lettuce, roasted beet and feta cheese with olive oil and roasted pumpkin seeds.
  6. Pumpkin soup with lentils (you can find the recipe HERE).
  7. Roast cod with potatoes, broccoli, onions and peppers, served with lettuce and dressing.

Mediterranean diet – dinners:

  1. Steamed chicken breast stuffed with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, served with brown rice and lettuce.
  2. Mixed vegetable-based salad served with roast salmon (cold smoked salmon) with vegetable and dill dressing.
  3. Vegetable skewers with tofu.
  4. Fresh tortilla wraps with lots of vegetables and mozzarella cheese.
  5. White bean paste with sun-dried tomatoes, served with wholemeal bread and fresh vegetables.
  6. Caprese salad (sliced mozzarella, tomato, olive oil, basil) along with wholegrain bread.
  7. Tuna and cottage cheese paste, served with butter lettuce and green cucumber.

As a snack, choose fruit, which you can combine with natural yoghurt, cottage cheese or seeds/nuts.



[1] Aleksandra Cichocka, Dieta śródziemnomorska w profilaktyce pierwotnej choroby niedokrwiennej serca, Endokrynologia, Otyłość i Zaburzenia Przemiany Materii 2005, tom 1, nr 3, s. 30–39.

[2] [5] [6] [8] [10] Finicelli M., Di Salle A., Galderisi U., Peluso G., The Mediterranean Diet: An Update of the Clinical Trials, Nutrients. 2022 Jul 19;14(14):2956. doi: 10.3390/nu14142956. PMID: 35889911; PMCID: PMC9317652.

[3] Stanaway J. D., Afshin A., Ashbaugh C., Bisignano C., Brauer M., Ferrara G., Garcia V., Haile D., Hay S. I., He J., Iannucci V., Lescinsky H., Mullany E. C., Parent M. C., Serfes A. L., Sorensen R. J. D., Aravkin A. Y., Zheng P., Murray C. J. L., Health effects associated with vegetable consumption: a Burden of Proof study, Nat Med. 2022 Oct;28(10):2066-2074. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01970-5. Epub 2022 Oct 10. PMID: 36216936; PMCID: PMC9556321.

[4] Badania pokazują, że dieta śródziemnomorska dobrze wpływa na organizm, https://cordis.europa.eu/article/id/30949-study-shows-the-mediterranean-diet-does-the-body-good/pl, dostęp online: 25.03.2024.

[7] [8] Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/mediterranean-diet/, dostęp online: 25.03.2024.

[9] Gaforio J. J., Visioli F., Alarcón-de-la-Lastra C., Castañer O., Delgado-Rodríguez M., Fitó M., Hernández A. F., Huertas J. R., Martínez-González M. A., Menendez J. A., Osada J., Papadaki A., Parrón T., Pereira J. E., Rosillo M. A., Sánchez-Quesada C., Schwingshackl L., Toledo E., Tsatsakis A. M., Virgin Olive Oil and Health: Summary of the III International Conference on Virgin Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report, JAEN (Spain) 2018, Nutrients. 2019 Sep 1;11(9):2039. doi: 10.3390/nu11092039. PMID: 31480506; PMCID: PMC6770785.

[11] Ranking diet – dieta śródziemnomorska najzdrowszą dietą 2022, https://ncez.pzh.gov.pl/zdrowe-odchudzanie/skuteczne-odchudzanie/ranking-diet-dieta-srodziemnomorska-najzdrowsza-dieta-2022/, dostęp online: 25.03.2024.