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Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The Mediterranean diet pyramid is based on the priority of what foods should be consumed, from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. To view the downloadable, printable .PDF version.

Med diet is it’s not too restrictive and therefore relatively easy to follow. Since most people are trying to eat healthier these days – choosing a way of eating that is healthy in general is likely to be a good choice.

Mediterranean diet pyramid

Here is how it works. Each level of the chart includes various food groups. For each level, there is a suggested amount of times per week to consume each group, as follows.

Food groups

Here are the food groups listed from the most important to the least, as well as the ones to be avoided;

Eat from this list every meal, every day

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • herbs & spices
  • whole grains 
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • tubers
  • beans, legumes and pulses 
  • extra virgin olive oil

Eat items from this group 5-7 times per week

  • seafoods – fatty fish
  • eggs
  • poultry

Consume items from this list 3-5 times per week

  • cheese
  • dairy

Consume from this list rarely

  • red meat
  • red wine

Foods to avoid

  • refined grains
  • other oils
  • sugar
  • processed food

The Mediterranean (Med) diet is built on a plant-based platform. Plant-based food plans consist primarily of whole foods, fresh vegetables and fruits with limited amounts of animal protein. The Med diet places more weight on seafood and fish over eggs, chicken, dairy and especially red meat.

Tubers, such as sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips and yams, are specifically highlighted as a type of vegetable for their nutritional value, including;

  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • resistant starch
  • lower cardiovascular risk
  • gut health
  • high in fiber
  • energy (good carbs)

Seeds and nuts are also promoted on the Med diet, and for good reason. Both are healthy sources of vitamins, minerals, oil and fiber.

At the very top of pyramid (restricted) besides red meat, are processed foods, sugar, red wine, vegetable oils and refined grains. This heavily over-balanced food plan emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil and seafood is considered an ideal to build and sustain good health.

Olive oil

Lately, there has a lot of information about the positive health benefits of olive oil, and for good reason. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the healthiest form of fat on the planet. There is no one question fat is one of the three basic components of the human diet. EVOO is a core component of the Med diet and one of the reasons people in this region stay so healthy. t is created using olives from local trees. First, the olives are ground into a paste, then pressed into oil extract. There’s no heat used at all, hence the term “cold-pressed.” This type of process takes a lot of time and energy which is why it is expensive.


NIH states “…the origins of the Med Diet are lost in time because they sink into the eating habits of the Middle Ages; including bread, wine, olives (and oil), sheep cheese, vegetables, with little meat and a strong preference for fish and seafood.”

The Med diet germinated from a study conducted by Ancel Keys, Ph.D., known as the “seven countries study.” The research was done way back in 1958 and proclaimed that the lowest rates of heart disease, among the seven countries, were Greece, Italy, and Spain all of which border the Mediterranean Sea.

  • It seems relevant to note the seven-country study was published 64 years ago. A lot has changed since that time.

The people of this region are known for their heart-healthy diets and long lifespans. The Med diet is all about eating foods popular in this region, as the Mayo Clinic explains, “it is a plant-based food plan which is based primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, olive oil, seafood, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. It allows for a limited amount of meat (primarily chicken and kinds of seafood.”