The Mediterranean Diet – A Heart-Healthy Eating Plan

May is National Hypertension Awareness Month and American Stroke Month, two conditions that are intricately linked to cardiovascular health. While many fad diets tend to come and go, one dietary pattern has stood the test of time and remains one of our world’s healthiest.

Mediterranean Diet pyramid.

Mediterranean Diet pyramid.
Julianna Parham Lyle ©2024, Clemson Extension

The Mediterranean Diet gets its name from the region of the world that it comes from and has been associated with longevity, heart health, and a decrease in the incidence of stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. However, while we often refer to this as a diet, in truth, the Mediterranean diet is a “lifestyle” that follows a combination of healthful practices such as a nutritious dietary pattern and regular exercise. The diet is comprised of whole food ingredients such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins such as fish and poultry, nuts and seeds, and heart-healthy oils. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are necessary to maintain heart health and healthy blood sugar levels, as well as help our bodies recover from sickness, injury, and stress. It is emphasized that these meals are best enjoyed with friends and family, and the Mediterranean diet encourages its adopters to make mealtimes meaningful and more than simply the idea of “eating to live”.

The Mediterranean Diet is often visualized using a pyramid to display the different food groups that are included. The base of this pyramid includes strong lifestyle components of regular exercise, activity, and time with loved ones as a basis for good quality health. From there, the pyramid emphasizes plant-based foods first, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, followed by fish and seafood—next, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt, and lastly, meats and sweets.

Try out this nutritious daytime meal plan for a full day of Mediterranean-style eating:

Breakfast: Eggs in Purgatory: a flavorful Mediterranean dish of brothy, fresh tomato sauce topped with a poached egg that can be served with a slice of whole grain toast for dipping.

Lunch: Mini Chicken Shawarma Wraps: a delicious make-ahead lunch of spiced chicken, fresh vegetables, and a cool Greek yogurt dressing that can be prepped and assembled at your desk.

Snack: Savory Date and Pistachio Bites: sweet and savory on-the-go snack bites that are full of nuts, dried fruits and spices.

Dinner: Baked Trout with Lemon, Garlic, and Herbs: an easy 20-minute dinner that can be paired alongside roasted veggies with a side of brown rice for a well-balanced plate.

For more information or to find Mediterranean diet recipes similar to these, join us this month for Stirring Up Healthy Recipes, a diabetes-friendly cooking class.

Stirring Up Healthy Recipes

Stirring Up Healthy Recipes is a FREE monthly cooking class that provides practical nutrition education to those living with a chronic disease diagnosis.

If you have not registered for Stirring Up Healthy Recipes – what are you waiting for? You can sign up by following the link HERE.



If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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