What’s Ok and Not Ok to Eat On the Mediterranean Diet? Find Out Now!

The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest dietary patterns. It focuses on whole, minimally processed foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. It also incorporates moderate amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, while limiting red meat and sweets.

While the Mediterranean diet is flexible, there are some foods that fit better into the pattern than others. Here is a detailed guide on what’s ok and not ok to eat on the Mediterranean diet.

What Lunch Meat Is Allowed On the Mediterranean Diet?

When choosing sandwich meat on the Mediterranean diet, lean sliced poultry like turkey and chicken can fit well, especially if nitrate-free. Processed deli meats like bologna, salami, and pepperoni do not belong on the Mediterranean diet due to their high sodium and fat content.

Instead, build your sandwich with Mediterranean diet-approved ingredients like tuna, salmon, hummus, avocado, hard-boiled egg, roasted veggies, fresh mozzarella, or feta. You can also swap sandwich meat for a lean protein like grilled chicken breast or a plant-based protein like roasted chickpeas.

What Pasta Can You Eat on Mediterranean Diet?

On the Mediterranean diet, it’s best to choose whole grain pasta varieties like 100% whole wheat, brown rice, or quinoa. These provide more fiber, nutrients, and satisfying texture compared to refined, white pasta.

Portion sizes are also important on the Mediterranean diet—about 1⁄2 cup to 1 cup cooked pasta per serving is considered appropriate. To boost nutrition, serve pasta with tomato sauce, veggies, beans, Parmesan or feta cheese, and olive oil. Limit high-fat sauces like Alfredo or carbonara.

Is Peanut Butter Ok To Eat on a Mediterranean Diet?

Natural peanut butter and other nut butters like almond or cashew can be enjoyed in moderation on the Mediterranean diet. Choose all-natural nut butters with just nuts and maybe a bit of salt—skip those with hydrogenated oils and added sugars. Pair nut butter with whole grain toast or fresh fruit for a nutrient-rich snack or light meal. Just watch portions since nuts are calorie dense.

Are Potatoes OK on Mediterranean Diet?

Potatoes can be part of a Mediterranean diet, but in moderation by limiting to 1-2 times per week. It’s best to emphasize nutrient-dense starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squash, peas, plantains, or yucca more often. When you do eat white or russet potatoes, enjoy them baked, roasted, or mashed versus deep fried. Also limit high-fat toppings like butter, bacon, and heavy creams.

What is the Best Bread to Eat on a Mediterranean Diet?

For bread on the Mediterranean diet, choose 100% whole grain varieties like whole wheat sourdough, rye, brown rice, oat and quinoa breads. Sprouted grain breads are also a good option. These breads offer more fiber, protein, and micronutrients versus refined white breads. Limit bread to 1-2 slices per day as part of a meal, instead of snacks or appetizers where it’s easy to overeat.

Is Bacon Ok on the Mediterranean Diet?

Bacon is not part of a traditional Mediterranean diet. Processed meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and deli meat are limited on the Mediterranean diet due to their high sodium and saturated fat content. Occasionally including small amounts of unprocessed lean pork like tenderloin may be ok, but plant-based proteins and fatty fish are encouraged more often.

Are Bananas Ok on Mediterranean Diet?

Yes, bananas can be enjoyed as part of a Mediterranean diet. They make a quick grab-and-go snack and pair well with peanut or almond butter. Other fruits like apples, grapes, berries, melon, figs, citrus, and pomegranate are also encouraged on the Mediterranean diet. The key is focusing on whole fruits rather than fruit juices to get fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants.

Is it Ok to Eat Popcorn on the Mediterranean Diet?

Air-popped popcorn can fit into the Mediterranean diet, but it’s best to limit buttery, oily toppings. Instead, sprinkle nutritional yeast, garlic powder, paprika, rosemary, oregano, or chili powder on popcorn for flavor. You can also use a spritz of olive oil. Popcorn is a whole grain that’s low in calories, so it’s a great snack when prepared healthfully without excess saturated fat or salt.

Is Oatmeal on the Mediterranean Diet?

Whole oats and oatmeal are an excellent choice on the Mediterranean diet. Steel cut oats and old fashioned oats are less processed than instant oatmeal, meaning more fiber and nutrients. Try oatmeal topped with fruit, nuts, Greek yogurt, cinnamon, or a drizzle of honey for a Mediterranean diet breakfast. Avoid pre-flavored, sugary instant oatmeal packets.

Is Hummus Ok on Mediterranean Diet?

Hummus is a Mediterranean diet staple, providing protein from chickpeas plus fiber and healthy fat from olive oil. Pair hummus with fresh cut veggies, whole grain pita or rice crackers as a plant-based snack or light meal. Hummus is a healthy substitute for less nutritious dips and spreads like ranch, bacon cheese, or cream cheese-based dips which are higher in saturated fat and sodium.

What is the Best Bread to Eat on a Mediterranean diet?

For bread on the Mediterranean diet, choose 100% whole grain varieties like whole wheat sourdough, rye, brown rice, oat and quinoa breads. Sprouted grain breads are also a good option. These breads offer more fiber, protein, and micronutrients versus refined white breads. Limit bread to 1-2 slices per day as part of a meal, instead of snacks or appetizers where it’s easy to overeat.

In summary, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole, minimally processed plant foods—vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Lean proteins like poultry, fish, eggs, yogurt and cheese are enjoyed in moderation, while red meat and processed foods are limited. Making most of your choices from the “yes” foods while limiting the “no” foods will help you successfully follow a Mediterranean diet pattern.

Can You Drink Coffee on Mediterranean Diet?

Coffee can be enjoyed in moderation on the Mediterranean diet. Those living in the Mediterranean region typically drink coffee daily. Limit added sugar and flavorings, or try cinnamon to add natural sweetness. Light cream or milk is OK, but avoid heavy cream and unhealthy coffee drinks loaded with syrups, whipped cream, and sweeteners. Also, limit coffee to 1-2 cups per day to prevent adverse effects from excess caffeine.

What Cheeses Are Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet includes moderate amounts of natural cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese, feta and Parmesan. Look for lower sodium varieties. Limit processed cheeses like American singles as well as cheese spreads and dips—these are higher in salt, additives and saturated fat. Also go easy on crumbled or shredded cheese as a topping, which can add a lot of calories.

Is Rice Ok On Mediterranean Diet?

White and brown rice can both fit into the Mediterranean diet in moderation. Go for brown rice more often since it has more fiber, nutrients and satisfies hunger better. Enjoy rice as a side dish or mix with veggies, lentils or beans. Limit rice cakes and crackers which are refined and less nutritious.

Is Mayonnaise Allowed On The Mediterranean Diet?

Regular mayonnaise is high in calories and unhealthy fats, so traditional Mediterranean diets used olive oil, yogurt or tahini based sauces instead. If enjoying mayo, choose a “light” version made with olive or avocado oil rather than soybean or canola oil to get some heart healthy fats. But still use sparingly, as a little goes a long way.

Can I Eat Hash Browns On The Mediterranean Diet?

Occasionally including small portions of hash browns is ok on the Mediterranean diet, but they shouldn’t be an everyday breakfast food. Load your plate with veggies first, then add 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup hash browns. Bake or pan-fry in olive oil instead of deep frying. Sweet potatoes or roasted potatoes are healthier choices that provide more nutrients.

What Starches Are On The Mediterranean Diet?

Good starch sources on the Mediterranean diet include whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous and pasta, plus starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, winter squash, peas, plantains and potatoes. Beans and lentils are also unique starches with protein and fiber. Limit refined grains like white pasta, bread and rice.

Can You Eat Onions On Mediterranean Diet?

Yes, onions are recommended on the Mediterranean diet. Onions provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant compounds that may improve heart health. Use onions to add flavor in cooking, on salads, sandwiches, omelets or as a topping for fish. Shallots, scallions, leeks and garlic are also encouraged as part of the allium family.

Can You Eat Chocolate On The Mediterranean Diet?

Dark chocolate in small amounts can fit into the Mediterranean diet. Choose dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or greater and have 1 small square (around 1 ounce) 2-3 times per week. Avoid milk chocolate and candies with high sugar. The antioxidants in cocoa provide cardiovascular benefits, but only with small portions.

Is Canned Tuna OK On Mediterranean Diet?

Canned tuna is a quick protein that works for the Mediterranean diet, just choose low sodium options and rinse before using. Fresh tuna steaks are great, but limit high mercury fish like albacore (white) tuna to once per week. Canned salmon, sardines or anchovies are other convenient fish options suitable for the Mediterranean diet.

What Rice Is Best For Mediterranean Diet?

For the Mediterranean diet, the best rice choices are brown rice, wild rice, black rice, red rice, and other colorful whole grain rice varieties. These provide more nutrients and fiber than white rice. Limit white rice to occasional use and stick to half cup servings as a side dish, rather than the main part of the meal.

What Snacks Are Allowed On The Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet includes snacks like fresh fruit, vegetables with hummus, Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, hard boiled eggs, whole grain crackers, and a small square of dark chocolate. Popcorn and whole grain cereal can work too. Avoid processed snacks like chips, cookies, granola bars, and sugary baked goods which are common pitfalls.

What Sweets Can I Eat On Mediterranean Diet?

Dessert is typically enjoyed during celebrations in the Mediterranean region. Portion controlled options like fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with honey, small squares of dark chocolate, or oven-baked Mediterranean cookies made with olive oil and minimal added sugar can work for the diet. Avoid frequent or large portions of cake, ice cream, and candy.

Can I Eat Pickles On Mediterranean Diet?

Non-sweet pickles can be enjoyed as part of the Mediterranean diet. Pickled vegetables like peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and onions provide a savory crunch. However, limit sodium intake by choosing low-sodium varieties of pickles and pickled products like relish, olives, and capers. Also, emphasize fresh vegetables as your main source rather than pickled versions.

What Are The Best Tortillas For Mediterranean Diet?

Look for whole grain tortillas made with just corn, whole wheat flour, or a blend. Sprouted grain tortillas are a good choice too. Avoid white flour tortillas as well as crispy taco shells, which are highly refined and often loaded with sodium and preservatives. Stick to a single small 6” tortilla serving or lettuce wrap.