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The Mediterranean Diet Pattern

Follow a Mediterranean diet pattern to manage your diabetes and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

  • Have at least one serving of fruits or vegetables at every meal.
  • Choose vegetarian sources of protein at least 3 times each week.
  • Prepare your own food more often.
  • Include healthy fats.
  • Choose whole grains that prevent your blood sugar from going too high and then dropping.
  • Eat some dairy products.

You can protect your heart and reduce your risk of heart disease by eating a Mediterranean diet pattern. A Mediterranean diet pattern includes healthy fats and oils that come from plants.

A Mediterranean diet pattern can lower your risk of getting a heart attack, angina or stroke by 50-70%.

What Is The Mediterranean Diet Pattern?

A Mediterranean diet pattern is a pattern of eating that is common in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. You can adapt this diet pattern to any country or culture. It is a way of eating and a lifestyle approach to manage your diabetes and health.

Features of a Mediterranean diet pattern include eating more fresh whole foods and mostly plants at every meal such as:

  • vegetables and fruit
  • fish
  • pulses, such as dried beans/peas, lentils, and chickpeas
  • whole grains, like barley, oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice
  • fats and oils that come from plants, such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and/or seeds

The Mediterranean diet pattern is not vegetarian, but you eat less meat and less higher fat dairy foods (such as cheese). The type of fat found in animal foods is mostly saturated fat. Saturated fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood.

The Mediterranean diet pattern is low in animal fats, high in fibre and low in the glycemic index. Find out more about fibre and diabetes »

The Mediterranean diet pattern suggests cooking at home more often with fresh foods instead of using processed, prepared foods and restaurant meals.

Why Follow the Mediterranean Diet Pattern?

Many studies show that a Mediterranean diet pattern can help you manage your diabetes and improve your health.

A Mediterranean diet pattern can:

  • lower your A1c
  • improve how well your body uses insulin (a hormone in your body that helps control your blood sugar level)
  • lower your total and LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • lower your triglyceride level (a type of fat in your blood)
  • lower your blood pressure
  • protect the tissues of your body from damage (inflammation) that can lead to disease (such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer)
  • prevent or delay diabetes if you are living with pre-diabetes
  • prevent heart disease and some cancers

Tips for Eating a Mediterranean Diet Pattern

Have at least one serving of fruits and vegetables with every meal

  • Choose fruits and vegetables that differ in colour.
  • Include fruits and vegetables that are raw, frozen, roasted, and steamed.
  • Add vegetables to soup or sauté them in a stir-fry.

Choose vegetarian sources of protein at least 3 times each week

  • Add legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and dried beans to salads and soups.
  • Add tofu or edamame to a stir-fry.
  • Replace some of the meat in recipes (such as chilli, pasta sauce, and tacos) with a vegetable protein.

Prepare your own food more often

  • When you prepare your own food, you know what is going into your food.
  • Foods that are prepared when you buy them are processed and tend to be higher in sodium, sugar and saturated fat.

Include healthy fats

  • Use extra-virgin olive oil when cooking.
  • Make your own salad dressings using olive oil, vinegar, and other seasonings (such as mustard, small amounts of honey or maple syrup, garlic, and herbs).
  • Eat nuts, peanuts, seeds, and avocados in salads or as a snack.

Choose whole grains that prevent your blood sugar from going too high and then dropping (have a low glycemic index)

Eat foods such as:

  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • bulgur
  • barley
  • steel cut oats
  • rolled oats
  • whole grain, dense bread

Eat some dairy products

  • Choose lower fat, plain Greek, or regular yogurt. Add fresh fruit and nuts for flavour.
  • Use cheese as a garnish. Add a small amount of Parmesan cheese to pasta or add a crumble of feta cheese to salads.
Last Reviewed: 10/16/2016