11 of the best foods to eat on the Mediterranean diet

Wikimedia CommonsThe Mediterranean diet is praised as one of the healthiest eating plans.
  • The Mediterranean is one of the best diets to try in 2019.
  • The diet is beneficial for cardiovascular health, kidney health, and cholesterol levels.
  • Foods like fruits, vegetables, and fish are some of the main options for the Mediterranean diet.

If you want to be healthier in 2019, you may want to consider the Mediterranean diet. The U.S. News and World Report ranked the Mediterranean diet as the best diet for 2019, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s accessible, sustainable, and not restrictive.

The diet has a focus on plant-based foods, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and fish. But while the Mediterranean diet isn’t a restrictive one, there are still some foods that are better to eat than others.

If you follow the Mediterranean diet correctly, you can reap the full benefits. Long-term studies have found that those who follow the diet are less likely to develop things like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and breast cancer, and it can also help improve cholesterol levels, assist in weight loss, and even extend your life. Below are a few of the best foods to eat to ensure you follow the diet correctly:

Vegetables, especially greens, are one of the most important parts of the Mediterranean diet.

Eating a lot of vegetables is a huge part of the Mediterranean diet. Suzy Weems, a registered dietitian and professor nutrition science at Baylor University, told Time that “the recommendation is to get around nine servings of produce a day.” She suggests trying leafy greens and a mix of red, orange, and yellow veggies as well, although really, any vegetable is a good choice.

Fruits are just as important as veggies.

Johannes Simon/Getty ImagesThere are lots of fruits that fit in with the Mediterranean diet.

Fresh fruit is essential to the Mediterranean diet. Apricots, avocados, cherries, clementines, dates, figs, and melons can all fit nicely into the diet, but no truly fresh fruit is off limits.

Nuts and seeds are a vital part of your diet as well.

ShutterstockNuts have healthy fats.

Studies have found that adding healthy fats from nuts and seeds can improve cognitive function and assist in weight loss. While there are no restrictions on what kind of nuts and seeds you should eat, Oldways recommends almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and pistachios.

Legumes are a great way to get in protein.

ShutterstockLegumes have protein and the benefits of vegetables.

According to The Bean Institute, legumes are a major food source in the Mediterranean diet because they “pack a unique combination of nutrients that give them a profile similar to both a protein and a vegetable.” Great options to eat include fava beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and chickpeas.

Potatoes definitely shouldn’t be avoided on the Mediterranean diet.

aperturesound/ShutterstockPotatoes have lots of nutrients.

Potatoes may seem like a “bad carb” sometimes, but they aren’t viewed that way on this diet. They can be a great source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fibre, and more. Try eating white potatoes and sweet potatoes without going overboard.

Whole grains are much better than processed white bread and pasta.

Marco Verch/FlickrWhole grains are important for fibre.

While bread and pasta and other carbs may be off limits on many diets, it’s not the case here. Weems told Time to opt for whole-grain and whole-wheat options, which “add fibre and bulk to the diet, which can help you feel full faster.” Healthy options include brown rice, quinoa, couscous, oats, and whole grain pasta and bread.

Seafood is highly encouraged, with fatty fishes being your best bet.

ShutterstockFatty fish has lots of omega-3s.

While red meat and poultry aren’t considered off limits, fish is definitely thought of as the better option. Veer towards fatty fish for this diet – omega-3 fatty acids can help slow the buildup of plaque in our arteries and reduce our risk of heart disease. Some great examples include salmon, sardines, mackerel, and catfish.

Extra virgin olive oil is basically the basis of the Mediterranean diet.

barol16/iStockCooking with olive oil is a plus.

According to Oldways, extra virgin olive oil is “the core of the Mediterranean diet.” Research has found that cooking vegetables in olive oil are healthier than steaming them as it “increases the phenolics… in the raw food.” It has also been linked to weight loss.

Dairy is great, as long as you don’t go overboard.

ShutterstockDairy can be beneficial for cardiovascular health.

While dairy is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, it’s not meant to be eaten quite as much as, say, vegetables or fish. But studies have found that adding dairy to the Mediterranean diet can offer benefits to cardiovascular health. Choose yogurts and cheeses to supplement your diet.

Eggs are a good source of protein.

BlacKCatPRO/ShutterstockEggs can reduce inflammation.

Eggs are also not quite as important as veggies and fruits, but they are a great source of protein and healthy addition to the diet. Research has shown that cholesterol from eggs can help improve the blood lipid fat levels, which can reduce inflammation.

Herbs and spices are a healthy way to add flavour to your meals.

LucyCaldicott/FlickrSpices reduce the need for salt.

Not only do herbs and spices make all of your food taste better, but they’re also important on the Mediterranean diet. They are rich in antioxidants and can reduce the need for salt, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some popular ones include cumin, garlic, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

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