Mediterranean Diet Food List: What to Add to Your Menu

Mediterranean Diet Food List: What to Add to Your Menu

Sep 06, 2023Tori Sajovec, RD, LD

Sick of dieting? Can’t fathom the thought of another “food rule?” If you’re ready to adopt a lifestyle that is both realistic and maintainable, look no further. For the third year in a row, the Mediterranean diet menu has been named the best overall diet to follow, according to U.S. News & World Report. Criteria from seven different categories were considered when ranking 35 of the most popular diets in the world. Criteria included how easy the plan was to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, safety, nutritional completeness, and its potential for preventing common chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. The Mediterranean diet doesn’t ban any food groups, making it an easier meal plan to follow than other elimination diets. Let’s explore the foundation of the diet and how to start eating the Mediterranean way.

Mediterranean Diet Food List

1. More Fruits and Vegetables: It’s no surprise that a diet that scored top dog would be one that emphasizes these two food groups. Most Americans don’t eat enough produce; aiming for five servings daily will aid with many health goals. If five seems like a lot, simply add one more serving to your current eating pattern and continue to work up to the full five by incorporating the Mediterranean diet food list into your meal plan.

2. Whole Grains: A diet that still encourages bread? Count me in! If you find yourself lethargic or hungry, the culprit may be a lack of carbs or fiber consumed. Making one switch while grocery shopping will fill your belly without going over your budget. There is a whole-grain option for every wheat product you can think of. Pasta? Yep. Your morning toast? You got it. Pizza crust? Sure thing and it’s even tasty.

3. Healthy Fats: Butter is a staple in most households; however, the Mediterranean diet  encourages the use of olive oil when cooking. Olive oil contains a hefty dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol. Drizzle and sauté veggies and protein or use as a base for salad dressing. More than likely, you won’t even notice the difference when making this single swap.

4. More Seafood; Limited Red Meat: Again, this diet doesn’t eliminate food groups, but it does want you to be considerate about portions and cuts. Aim for two servings of seafood a week, while selecting lean red meat choices. A serving of meat is 3-4 ounces, or about the size of an iPhone.

5. Herbs and Spices: Shake it off – the use of salt, that is. Mediterranean cuisine relies heavily on the spice rack, which pumps up the flavor without any added sodium. Turn any basic meal into an impressive dish using fresh mint or rosemary and spices such as ginger and red pepper flakes.

Mediterranean Diet Foods

No harsh rules, no off-limit foods, no pre-packaged meals. It’s understandable why the Mediterranean diet is consistently a top contender on the best-ranked diet list. When a well-rounded approach to eating isn’t restrictive, magic happens. Take a look at your current meal behaviors and start making small changes where you can. Today seems like the perfect day to stop depriving and start enjoying food again.

Mediterranean Farro Salad – We can tell by the title that this recipe is included in the Mediterranean diet! This delicious option is great for dinner, lunch or just a side dish. It is packed full of whole grains and vegetables, with lower sodium and no added sugar. Add the ingredients to your shopping list, stat!

Mediterranean Farro Salad

Serves 16

All you need:

1 (8.8-oz) pkg Full Circle 10-minute Italian farro

1 (15-oz.) can Hy-Vee no-salt-added garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1½ cups halved red and yellow grape tomatoes

¾ cup sliced and halved mini cucumbers

½ cup chopped red onions

½ cup Soiree traditional crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup Hy-Vee sliced black olives, drained

2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus additional for garnish

¼ cup bottled Parmesan and roasted garlic salad dressing

All you do:

  1. Cook farro according to package directions, cool. Combine cooled farro, garbanzo beans, red and yellow grape tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, feta cheese, olives and parsley in a large bowl. Drizzle with salad dressing; toss. Cover and chill until serving time. If desired, garnish with additional parsley.


As humans, it can be hard to step out of routine and start doing something different. But what if shifting what we eat can actually help support our health and lifestyle? Let our Hy-Vee dietitians help you in your journey. While we can’t go home and cook for you every night, we can talk with you about your goals and how to achieve them, find new recipes and help break down what it looks like to incorporate the Mediterranean diet. Learn more about us on our Hy-Vee Dietitian website.

*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

About the Registered Dietitian      

Tori Sajovec RD, LD, received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics with a minor in English from Iowa State University. From there, her passions took her to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she completed her 10-month dietetic internship program through Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. As her knowledge of food and nutrition grew, so did her desire to educate customers and clients on their overall well-being. Her goal as a dietitian is to make health and wellness an insightful and enjoyable lifestyle for all.

More articles

Paleo Diet Food List for Beginners
Tori Sajovec, RD, LDAug 30, 2023
How to Eat for Weight Loss
Tori Sajovec, RD, LDSep 13, 2023