Want to know more? Read our guide on what makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy and browse our healthy Mediterranean recipes. Check out our deep dives into popular diets, including keto and low-FODMAP.
Mediterranean diet recipes
Olive oil and extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fats – these are less likely to oxidise and produce damaging free radicals in the body than other fats, such as those found in vegetable oil. It’s anti-inflammatory, packed with protective nutrients like vitamin E and linked to improved brain function.
Tasty chicken piccata is an Italian dish. After lightly frying the chicken in olive oil, lemon, capers and stock are added to the pan. Ready in 20 minutes, it’s nutritious and low in calories too.
Translated, the name means pasta and beans but this dish is so much more. It’s a vegan recipe packed with kale, carrots, celery, tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. All you need to do is add the ingredients to your slow cooker.
The classic Italian ‘hunter’s stew’ gets a healthy makeover, with low-fat chicken breasts, prosciutto and a rich herby tomato sauce. Serve with brown rice or steamed greens, if you like.
Unsalted nuts and seeds
Walnuts, almonds and pine nuts are common in the Mediterranean diet – each bring their own impressive benefits. Walnuts contain high amounts of poly-unsaturated fats which are good for brain health. Almonds may reduce the risk of heart disease. Pine nuts are rich in vitamin E so may protect against ageing.
Plate up a colourful dish of grilled veg, tomatoes, cannellini beans, homemade pesto and an extra scattering of pine nuts. For an extra helping of greens, serve with a salad dressed with olive oil and lemon.
A healthy, hearty Spanish chicken stew to feed the family, that you can prepare in just 10 minutes. This rustic meal is best served with crusty bread or rice, so you don’t lose any of the sauce. Top with toast flaked almonds for added crunch.
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A quintessentially Sicilian veggie dish of aubergines, tomatoes, raisins and capers – all made with a good glug of olive oil. Pine nuts are scattered over the top for a contrasting texture and nutty flavour.
Oily varieties of fish
While not all fish consumed on the Mediterranean diet are available to use here at home, there are still plenty to enjoy, including sardines and mackerel. Canned sardines are a great alternative to fresh, in fact they’re even more nutritious because you can eat the bones. Mackerel is rich in healthy fats and selenium, which is important for a healthy immune system.
Punchy flavours combine in this 12-minute meal, rich in fibre, iron and omega-3. Make a quick peperonata with pre-roasted peppers, capers, shallot and garlic – the punchy flavours work wonderfully with the oily fish.
Get your portion of white fish and oily anchovies with this easy all-in-one recipe. It delivers four of your five-a-day, thanks to the addition of tomatoes, spinach and red pepper.
An affordable way to include oily fish in your diet, canned sardines add oomph to this simple, family pasta dish. Switch to brown spaghetti or linguine, if you prefer, and serve with salad.
Interestingly, prawns provide 22 times the vitamin E levels of chicken or beef – this acts as an antioxidant and may protect against heart disease and cancer. Mussels, along with other shellfish, contain important nutrients such as zinc, B12, iron and selenium.
Try our spaghetti recipe for two with king prawns, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and spicy harissa. It only takes 20 minutes and is healthy too – great for a midweek meal.
Who said paella was just for holidays? In this healthy, low-fat rice dish we’ve combined prawns, baby squid and mussels with smoky paprika and paella rice.
This simple, speedy one-pot is made with white fish fillets, king prawns, a rich tomato sauce and enough veg to count for 3 of your 5-a-day. All you need now is some brown bread for soaking up the sauce.
Colourful fresh fruit and veg
The Mediterranean diet includes lots of plant foods, such as avocado, tomatoes, pomegranate, cucumbers and berries. Avocados are high in mono-unsaturated fats which supports a healthy heart and tomatoes contain carotenoids which keep eyes healthy.
With just 20 minutes preparation and no cooking time you’ll be able to whip up this colourful avocado salad in no time. Chunky of crust bread add texture and soak up all those lovely juices from the tomatoes.
Add salade niçoise to your repertoire. With crunchy lettuce, ripe tomatoes, potatoes, tuna and soft-boiled eggs, it’s full of nutrients. You can scale back the potatoes, if you prefer to keep things low-carb.
After something light for lunch? This bright salad combines salty feta, sweet beetroot and tart pomegranate with mint, parsley, cinnamon and cumin. It’s an explosion of flavours that you’re guaranteed to love.
Green leafy veg
There are lots of ways to get your greens. Spinach is an excellent source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, kale is packed with vitamin C which supports the immune system and broccoli contains sulphur which may supports a healthy gut.
We’ve used broad beans, leeks and asparagus tips to make this healthy primavera dish but you could use whatever greens are in season. Kale, spinach and chard would all make great additions.
Beans are plentiful in the Mediterranean diet, they provide fibre, protein and lots of other nutrients. Whip up this stew in just 25 minutes with prosciutto, kale and butter beans. It’s a low-calorie, low-fat dinner with three of your 5-a-day.
A generous grating of parmesan balances the citrus in this fresh, nourishing pesto soup. Spinach, peas and celery add plenty of green goodness.
Wholegrain wheat, rice, oats and pasta
Instead of choosing refined, white carbohydrates like bread and pasta, opt for wholegrain foods instead. These are converted to energy more steadily in the body, which means you’re left feeling full for longer. There are other benefits, too. Brown rice contains fibre and protein, so it’s a lower -GI choice than white.
Make our Mediterannean-style chicken and hummus salad bowl for a delicious lunch option. It can be thrown together in just 10 minutes using a pouch of mixed grains and delivers three of your 5-a-day. It’s also packed with good fats, thank to the avocado and hummus.
Be transported to a beachside restaurant with a bowl of seafood pasta. You’ll get plenty of nutrients from the prawns, mussels and squid, as well as benefitting from the wholemeal spaghetti.
The Mediterranean diet isn’t meat-heavy– on the rare occasions that you eat it, make sure it’s lean. We’ve combined pork tenderloin fillet with brown rice, prawns, smoked paprika, peppers and green beans to make this hearty Spanish-style paella.
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