Mediterranean Diet for Beginners: Everything You Need to Get Started

A groundbreaking new study shows that the Mediterranean diet may help cancer survivors live longer. Different from many other trending eating patterns, the Mediterranean diet is meant to be easily customizable—and it can work with various types of cuisines and preferences. Rather than a strict meal plan, it's a way of eating that emphasizes enjoying whole foods and regular physical activity. Here, we give you a blueprint to follow the Mediterranean diet along with tips to make small, sustainable changes to what you're already eating to help it better align with your goals.

Read More: 8 Ways to Follow the Mediterranean Diet for Better Health

What Is the Mediterranean Diet

Featured Recipe: Simple Grilled Salmon & Vegetables

The Mediterranean diet is an eating pattern originated to follow the traditional way of eating in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. You don't have to live in Italy, Spain or France to benefit from the diet, however; many people are transitioning to it for the range of health benefits it provides. And more and more research is finding that foods from all over the globe (not just foods from one specific region) can confirm the same benefits when eaten in similar proportions to the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet isn't a strict plan. Rather, it's a way of eating that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthy plant-based oil. Fish is the main protein source instead of red meat, pork or poultry. And yes, it includes red wine—in moderation. Fermented dairy is consumed regularly but in moderate amounts. Eggs and poultry are occasionally consumed, but red meat and highly-processed foods are not typically eaten regularly.

The Mediterranean diet is associated with lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, lower risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases and a longer life, to name a few. Emerging research shows it may also reduce risk of—and potentially benefit those with—depression, anxiety, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

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