Mediterranean Diet Food List
Mediterranean Diet food list is the list of foods found in 'original' Mediterranean Diet with addition of foods suitable for 'modern' version of Mediterranean Diet. This list is not final - different areas of Mediterranean consumed foods that was available locally and that food varied.
Mediterranean Diet Foods
List of foods suitable for Mediterranean Diet is given in the following table (of course, there are other foods suitable and recommended for Mediterranean Diet not listed in table - it all depends were you live and your personal preferences):
Green, leafy vegetables:
- Various Peppers
- Various Berries
Beans and Legumes:
- various local beans
- Green Beans
- Red and White Wine
- 'Fruity' Wines
- Various Schnapps and Sherries
- Goat(!), Sheep(!), Donkey(!), Mare(!), Cow and Camel Milk
Fish and Other Sea Food:
- Sardines, Mackerel and other 'small' blue fish
- Tunas and other larger blue fish
- White fish
- Various Crabs
- Various Seaweeds
- Other red meat
- Olive Oil (Liquid Gold!!!)
- Butter (Solid Gold!!!)
Herbs and Spices:
One of the most important things about Mediterranean foods is that this food was/is mostly home grown, organic foods, without pesticides, insecticides and other '-icides' that can cause health problems. Also, there is no trace of GMO foods, fish was all wild fish with some of the fish bred extensively in primitive (compared to present fish farming technology) basins, chickens wandered around searching for seeds, bugs, worms; goats, sheeps and other cattle ate grass and wild bushes etc.
Paradise, right? Well, not exactly ...
Fertile land was scarce, in many areas during summer water supply was problematic (to say the least), most of the work was done manually, temperatures during summer where problem for storing food ...Nonetheless, people lived in many cases healthier than we live today ...
Mediterranean Diet Grocery List - Few Notes
Green, leafy vegetables like kale, cabbage, spinach, mangold, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, various peppers, zucchini etc are great source of complex carbs, fibers, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health improving micronutrients. They are very low on fat and low on protein. But when eaten often, protein content can't be ignored. OK, now, some people will disagree with me, but people in Mediterranean worked a lot, their body mass was rarely above 80kg (although there are areas in Mediterranean where people were tall even in old times - 183cm (6 feet) or higher was almost normal height for some areas). So, most of the calories for work came from carbs and fats, while protein (both animal and plant based) was used for other purposes - if you look at older photos (for example prior Second or even First World War) of people that lived in Mediterranean area, you will hardly find anybody fat - in fact, they are mostly very thin ...
Anyway, this food was grown without artificial chemicals, but availability was limited by water supply. Some vegetables were available even during winter as fresh vegetables (kale, spinach, some beans and onions) although they depended on winter and some vegetables were available in processed form (sauerkraut for example). Again, if someone is claiming that organic food is no better than chemically grown and treated vegetables (God forbid GMO foods), than that person don't know what good food is ... Or, have other reasons to claim otherwise ...
Fruits like apricots, figs, cherries, oranges, tangerines, apples, pears, pomegranate, watermelons, lemons, plums, peaches, various berries etc are eaten mostly fresh, but often also dried or sometimes processed (jam for example) - grapes and figs are often dried, wine is made from grapes, but also from blackberries, jam from apricots, various juices from, for example, pomegranate ... Plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other micronutrients stored for winter and days of need ...
Beans and legumes like various local beans, green beans, peas etc were grown whenever weather permitted, even during winter. They are great source of plant protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. They are eaten fresh or dried in various meals - they provide steady flow of energy and were often main ingredient of the main meal of the day - lunch.
Other vegetable include plants like eggplants, onions, potatoes, carrots etc. Onions and carrots are important for preparing foods like various stews and similar meals. Potatoes are very important source of starchy carbohydrates and were locally grown, but also imported due to lack of suitable land and limited water supply in many areas.
Nuts include plants like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachio etc. They are very important source of healthy fats, vitamin E, fibers and contain some protein. They are eaten regularly, but in small amounts like delicacy - mostly raw, but also as part of some other meal.
Grains include wheat, oats, couscous, rice, barley, corn etc. They were very important source of energy, b vitamins complex (whole grain, remember!), fibers, minerals etc. In 'traditional' Mediterranean Diet, grain products were eaten in practically every meal - since people were very active physically, this was not problem. In 'modern' Mediterranean Diet, calories must be reduced and they are reduced by lowering amounts of carbohydrate intake from starchy vegetables and grains. Remember that grains are still important, just amounts are lowered and those recommended grains are eaten as whole grains (much more fibers and B vitamins).
Beverages and fluid intake, in general, was very important, especially during summer. Most of fluid intake was from water. Other fluids were from various wines and beers. Alcohol beverages like various schnapps and sherries were often diluted with water and consumed even by very small children - for health reasons like 'stronger blood', better digestion and overall wellbeing. In many areas of Mediterranean, even today, it is normal for children to drink (for example during dinner) water with added just a little bit of red wine.
Dairy products were from another dimension when compared with 'modern' dairy products: milk was from goats, sheep, donkey, mare, cow and camel. Taste and nutrients content was million light years 'ahead' of milk that is sold in supermarkets today. What was consumed on daily basis, sometimes can be bought in some pharmacies at prices of (almost) solid gold. Seriously. Low fat milk with fat content of 1-2% fats was non-existent. In fact, if you offer milk with, for example, 3% of fats to someone used to freshly pasteurized milk, that person will think that he/she is drinking diluted milk. Again - seriously. And don't forget that such milk from grass and bushes fed cattle was much richer in CLA and other healthy fatty acids, vitamin A and other vitamins and minerals. Yogurt and cheese produced from such milk was delicacy in every way, when compared with present-day soaps sold as cheeses ...
Fish was eaten on daily basis, even few times per day, if fish was available. Fish was prepared fresh or salted. Fish was very important source of animal protein, healthy fish fats (omega-3, CLA etc), vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals. Although tuna was eaten more or less often, problems with mercury and other heavy metals was non-existent due to no environment pollution. Sardines were often salted, but other fishes were salted, too - tuna, amberjack, mackerel etc. Salted fish was consumed in small amounts with liquid gold (read - 'olive oil'), some vinegar, pepper, laurel, some wine and plenty of bread - it was (and still is) very salty :o) Salt was not problem in those days since people worked a lot and they sweated a lot ...
Salted fish meat, served with extra virgin olive oil, wine vinegar, pepper, laurel, home made bread and good wine is considered delicacy today. And it is delicacy. Just be careful with wine - after such meal, it just flow down the throat like water ... :o)
Poultry was/is important source of animal protein, especially eggs. Eggs were from chicken that searched for seeds, bugs and worms, ate grass and various cabbages and were often fed with leftovers from kitchen like kale, carrots, lettuce, bread, but also with whole grains - no GMO soy, no GMO corn etc. Such eggs were much richer with iron, vitamin A and healthy fats than eggs from commercially bred chickens. LDL cholesterol was low compared with HDL cholesterol and protein from such eggs was important addition to other protein sources. Don't ever throw away yolk from home (organically) bred chicken - if you want just egg whites, buy commercial eggs and separate egg whites from yolks ...
Red meat wasn't eaten very often - sometimes on Sundays and on holidays. It was eaten fresh or consumed as various meat products like sausages, salted meat and such. Meat was from animals that, like chickens, didn't eat GMO grains but were mostly fed with grass, some grains, bushes and similar locally available plants. Ever wondered why there are so many wood fires today? Well, if you ever find yourself near herd of goats, pay attention how they thoroughly 'clean' area around them ...
Other foods were available, depending on location. Olive oil was main source of fats and it was produced from locally grown olives. Butter was another important source of fats - it was made from milk from grass fed cattle and was rich in vitamin A and healthy fats. Of course, it was and still is very calorie dense - it was often used for preparing foods, but also spread on bread with some jam and milk - favorite breakfast for kids. Honey was main source of 'sweetness' - it was eaten on bread with butter for breakfast or was used as sweetener for various beverages (tea, for example). Also, it was used for making other meals...
Herbs and spices were mostly made from locally grown plants, but there were also imported ones. They were used for cooking to improve food taste and flavor, but they also often had/have therapeutic effect - helped with digestive problems and improved overall health.
Well, long story short, someone might think that I don't like commercially bred/grown foods. Actually, I don't. I eat it, but whenever I have opportunity to eat home grown food, I eat it and I enjoy it very much, thank you :o)
Who doesn't eat on regular basis foods from own backyard garden, don't know what is missing. Those that say that I am not right when comparing such foods with commercial foods and saying that backyard garden vegetables are so much better, I have only one thing to say - I feel sorry for you ...
One of the most important things when trying to eat properly is to remember 'KISS' principle - 'keep it simple and stupid', especially if you are without ideas what to cook and eat. Often the simplest recipes are the best ones - for example, slice one tomato onto the plate, add few tablespoons of low fat cheese, 5-6 almonds and you have simple, but great snack.