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Mediterranean Diet Macros

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Mediterranean diet macronutrients

What to eat on Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean diet: Recent studies on health effects

The Mediterranean diet is the typical diet/cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean sea. Such countries include Greece, Italy, France, and Spain. [1]

The Mediterranean diet focuses on consumption of whole foods, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables instead of targeting specific calorie and macronutrient targets. This diet is associated with various health benefits, including reduction in the risk of the following health conditions [2] :

    • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Dementia

In fact, some doctors may even prescribe Mediterranean diet as a lifestyle change complementing the official treatment plan. That being said, some people find this eating regime confusing in terms of macros (protein, carbs, fats), micronutrients, and calories.

This article guides you through target Mediterranean diet macros, food examples, and the health benefits associated with this diet.

Let’s get started!

Mediterranean diet macronutrients

Mediterranean diet doesn’t set specific standards for portion sizes, macronutrients, and calorie consumption. For that reason, it is considered a “moderate macronutrients diet.” With that in mind, average Mediterranean diet macros are [3] :

  • Carbs: 55-60% of daily calories
  • Proteins: 15% of daily calories
  • Fats: 21-30% of daily calories

mediterranean dish

Keep in mind that according to the guidelines of the American Heart Association, saturated fats should account for no more than 6% of daily calories in order to prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, and related health issues. [4] Saturated fat sources include fatty meat, butter, and dairy products, coconut oil, shortening, and processed foods.

Don’t miss out: Gluten-Free Mediterranean Diet

According to a study (on 1.595 French individuals), people who stick to the Mediterranean diet likely get more plant protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids and eat less saturated fats than other moderate macronutrient diets. Furthermore, Mediterranean-style eating likely contributes to higher carbs and polysaccharides intake, as well as dietary fiber and various micronutrients [5] :

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Folate
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Iron

That being said, the study estimated that women following this diet tend to have a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids ratio. This could be an indication that people on Mediterranean diet should eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to decrease the ratio (considering the ideal ratio at 1:4). [6]

The abundance of antioxidants and phytochemicals in Mediterranean-style dishes makes the Mediterranean diet healthy for fatty liver disease patients.

mediterranean style pasta

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What to eat on Mediterranean diet

Generally, Mediterranean diet is a plant-based eating plan as the main foods included in this diet are [7] :

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Wholegrains (YES, bread and pasta count)
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Olive oil

People who eat Mediterranean-style tend to eat limited amounts of animal protein (meat, poultry, dairy foods, eggs, fish), and the preferred protein sources are fish and seafood.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are four “rules” which make the Mediterranean diet unique [8] :

  1. Healthy fats are preferred over saturated fats (saturated fats include butter, margarine, shortening, beef fat, coconut oil). The go-to oil is extra virgin olive oil, and foods that contain healthy fats naturally are included in the diet (nuts, avocado, fatty fish).

  2. Fish is included in the menu at least 2 times weekly. Red meat is limited to a few times a month. Poultry, eggs, and dairy foods are consumed in small portions (daily or a few times a week).

  3. Water is considered the main beverage. Highly caloric drinks like soda and sweetened beverages are limited to a minimum. Mediterranean diet allows moderate consumption of wine together with food (no more than 2 glasses for men and 1 for women).

  4. Daily physical activities should be enjoyable (walking, dancing, and low-intensity exercise included)

mediterranean diet foods

If you want to adopt the Mediterranean diet, the NHS gives 5 tips that can help you out [9] :

  • Eat starchy foods like bread and pasta (whole grain if possible)
  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruits
  • Eat less meat
  • Include fish in your meals
  • Choose oils from vegetable/plant origin (Extra virgin olive oil is preferred, but other unrefined oils are also suitable)

Mediterranean diet: Recent studies on health effects

A 2020 systematic review and network meta-analysis paper suggests that moderate macronutrient diets like the Mediterranean diet show conflicting results for decreasing the risk of heart disease, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Compared to low-carb diets, moderate macro eating plans tend to decrease LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) to a greater extent. Yet, they are less effective for weight loss and blood pressure reduction. [3]

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