Mediterranean diet foods : we explain the first three tiers of the diet pyramid.

You can benefit from Mediterranean diet foods even if you don't live in the Mediterranean!    We look at how sourcing the right grains, fruit, veg and olive oil can benefit your family - now!

Mediterranean diet foods - how and what.

We're lucky. We live right in the middle of the Mediterranean region.  In fact, the area we live in has one of the longest-lived age ranges in the whole world - a fact that's been put down to the local way of life and in particular, the fact that local people ate Mediterranean diet foods long before other countries knew about its health benefits.

Delicious fresh olives - a great healthy food

We're lucky to have our own olives - try your local farmers' market for good quality.

But what if you don't live in Italy, or anywhere else in the region? Does an eating plan involving Mediterranean foods have any bearing on your life then? 


It doesn't matter where you live. It doesn't matter whether or not you have a huge place to grow your own. It doesn't matter if you don't have room for your own goats, chickens, cows or fish ponds. 

You can adapt Mediterranean diet foods so that you and your family can enjoy its health benefits just as much as if you were living in Italy, or anywhere else you think of as your Mediterranean ideal. 

So - let's get started!

The Mediterranean diet pyramid : eat these every day!

Mediterranean diet pyramid tiers 1 - 3

If you're particularly interested in one tier more than the others,  use these links to take you there now.

Mediterranean diet foods level 1 : Whole grains and pulses.

Forget the fries!  Take your carbohydrate the wholegrain way and get your kids on board - tell them it's time to eat more pizza.

This is an easy one to start with.  Just swap your white bread and pasta for whole grain or multi grain, and add some beans or seeds into your meals.  Have some each day, but watch your portion sizes.

Black olive bullet point

Our top tip : Make your own pizza - it takes minutes and it's fun - kids love adding their own choice of - healthy - toppings! Use wholegrain flour, load it with tomatoes and veg, look at Mozarella as a low fat alternative cheese, and you're onto a winner!

Home made pizza - a healthy option.

A delicious fresh pizza can make a healthy meal

Ever made your own pasta? It's so easy to do - and the whole family will love joining in.  Don't know how? Have a look at this page to learn all about making pasta in minutes! 

Not ready for that yet? Just alter your shopping habits. There are many good quality dried and fresh pastas in supermarkets.  The fresh ones are usually found in the chiller cabinets and take only a few minutes to cook.  

Another top tip : Watch out for those using wholegrains - they're even healthier. 

And don't forget the brown rice and couscous - they add great flavour and texture of their own whilst at the same time allowing the flavour of your dish to shine through.

Try to get some of these foods at each meal.

Mediterranean diet foods level 2 : Fruit and veg.

Fruit and vegetables are a mainstay of the diet of not just Italy, but all those who live in the Mediterranean region.  They should become an important part of your healthy eating plan.

Local oranges from our village market - you can find a market place too!

Find fresh, locally grown produce like these delicious oranges

Although freezer fruit and veg are generally very fresh, they're still processed. To eat more healthily try to buy fruit and veg which are locally sourced so they're as fresh as possible.   Look for a small, local specialist store or market. 

Better still, grow your own! You don't need to have acres of land. If you have an outside area, think about turning a corner of it into a vegetable patch. It's a challenge, it requires a little bit of work - but nothing compares to the flavour of a freshly picked tomato! And get the kids to help you - they'll love watching their plants grow. 

Grow your own brightly coloured veg - you'll love the difference in taste.

Grow your own fresh fruit and veg

No outside space? Don't panic! Remember that you can grow tomatoes, peppers, chilli peppers and herbs in pots, no matter how restricted your space. 

Feel free to eat as much fruit and veg as you like, every day!

Mediterranean diet foods level 3 : Olive oil.

Olive oil is the one thing that makes Mediterranean diet foods stand out from the rest.  It has so many magical qualities - its known health benefits are massive. 

Our oil coming off the press - green gold!

Our freshly pressed olive oil

Olive oil is the healthiest way of taking fat in your diet. Its health benefits outstrip all the other vegetable oils by a mile - and we won't even mention the harmful effects of eating or cooking with animal fats. 

We're lucky enough to have our own olive grove and our own fresh, cold stone pressed oil every year.  The oil you'll buy in supermarkets will never be that fresh but you can still get a good quality oil if you know what to look for.

How to tell it's good quality and fresh?  Look for a green oil, if possible in a dark coloured, glass bottle.   It's not cheap, but buy the best quality extra virgin you can afford and use it from now on wherever you need fat.

Fresh olive oil, home grown veg and herbs - healthy and nutritious.

Fresh olive oil with herbs and veg

Freeze it to make olive oil spread, dress your salad with it, drizzle it on some fresh (home made if possible!) crusty wholegrain bread.  It will enhance your cooking; you'll taste some amazing but subtle back flavours that you just don't get with other oils - ours tastes peppery.  

At the same time you'll be safeguarding your own and your family's health for years to come.  

Olive oil is, truly, magic!  Buy the best you can afford and use it to cook with all the time, every day.

Now let's move on to the next pyramid level.

Link to tiers 4 to 7 of Mediterranean diet pyramid

Or to read this page again, use this link back to the top of the Mediterranean diet foods page.

Please note : we are not medically qualified and we do not offer medical advice.  The information contained here is validated by the World Health Organisation and is given in good faith as general advice only.