Mediterranean Diet Pyramid: What Exactly Is It?

    Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

    Martin Alvarez

    Martin Alvarez
    Nutritionist/Dietitian Professional Guide

    Updated on 12/3/2022

    You most likely learned about the food pyramid as a little child in school. This picture presented a hierarchical structure that divided various types of nutrients into tiers according to their significance level. Mediterranean Diet pyramid is built so that the group with tremendous significance occupies the lowest level, and in contrast, the group with minor importance occupies the highest pyramid level.

    Even though the food pyramid you learned about in school is probably not as helpful as it was (if you recall, the lowest category was bread), there is another guide you might want. You can find it here, and it is available at this location. Even though it has been recognized as the best diet for general health in 2020 and is widely acknowledged for many benefits, the Mediterranean diet has its food pyramid. That is because it is well-known for the numerous benefits validated by scientific studies.

    To acquire a more in-depth understanding of the foods recommended as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet. We researched the history of the food pyramid associated with the Mediterranean diet. We also sought the guidance of a registered dietitian Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN. You took both of these steps to acquire the knowledge that we needed.

    What Is The Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid? 

    What Is The Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid?

    "you may break down the lives and diets of countries around the Mediterranean Sea into its parts, represented by the several levels of the pyramid based on the Mediterranean diet. One interpretation of it is as a list of suggestions for maintaining a diet similar to that of the Mediterranean, "Knudsen says. The nations that border the Mediterranean Sea are referred to as having a Mediterranean diet, and the pyramid that illustrates the many components of their regular diet and lifestyle may be found here.

    In 1993, the philanthropic organization Oldways, whose primary focus is on food and nutrition, sought the assistance of both the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization to establish the program. You did this to take advantage of the respective institutions' areas of expertise.

    The pyramid's foundation comprises meals recommended for daily consumption, which you should include in each meal. These foods should be considered the "base" of the pyramid. Fruits and vegetables have to be included in this assortment of meals. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, olive oil, and olive oil are some of the components that produce these foods. Other features include olive oil and olive oil.

    Meals that belong to the next group, which you should make an effort to eat at least twice a week and which encompass the meals in this category, include fish and other seafood. It is to your advantage to make it a goal to consume meals that fall into this category as frequently as possible.

    Mediterranean Diet

    After that, you will present a list of things you should only consume in limited quantities or measured. This group of foods includes a wide variety of delicacies such as chicken, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and even, in some conditions, red wine. The following are some examples of meals that are considered to fall under this category:

    The third component of the Mediterranean diet, which you should not disregard because it is a crucial component, consists of red meat, saturated fats, and a modest number of sweets. You should avoid this diet component, and this portion is set aside for occurrences of the utmost significance.

    The shape of a pyramid, which is used to illustrate the Mediterranean diet, represents the idea that a healthy lifestyle must also involve regular physical activity and the practice of sharing one's meals with friends and family. This concept is reflected in the fact that the Mediterranean diet is considered the healthiest in the world. The pyramid takes into account this guiding idea. According to Knudsen, it is beneficial to consider both factors; Knudsen explains that one cannot compensate for the other, as eating healthy food cannot make up for not getting enough exercise and vice versa. Consequently, considering both of these features is of the utmost importance. In addition to this, she believes that "eating and sharing meals with people are some of the oldest techniques to connect and establish ties with friends and family." Eating with other people is typically much more straightforward than eating with greater mindfulness, and it may even drive one to eat more slowly than they would if they were dining alone.

    How Does It Differ From The USDA Food Pyramid? 

    How Does It Differ From The USDA Food Pyramid?

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed its food advice pyramid precisely one year before the release of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, which was made available to the general public the following year. The following is a description of the solution that you implemented to deal with that particular problem:

    • The first layer may include anywhere between six and eleven servings of carbs (bread, pasta, rice, and cereal)
    • The second level of consumption consists of three to five servings of vegetables and two to five servings of fruit.
    • The third tier includes two to three servings of protein and two to three servings of vegetables.
    • servings of dairy products (including milk, yogurt, and cheese) (meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts)
    • First, reasonably indulge in meals high in sugar, good fats, and healthy oils.

    The food pyramid that is associated with the Mediterranean diet is more adaptable than the one that the USDA advises. That is because the portions of the USDA food pyramid are not isolated from one another, nor is the amount of food you should consume daily. Due to the inherent constraints of this structure, the nutritional content obtained from certain foods is only shown in a restricted fashion in this chart. That is because of the intrinsic limitations of this structure. For instance, a single serving of beans consists of a sufficient amount of both carbohydrates and fiber, and in addition, they are an abundant source of protein in the body. You can find suitable carbs in a single portion of vegetables.

    Mediterranean Diet

    According to Knudsen, the pyramid that is representative of the Mediterranean diet considers that foods considered to be sources of protein in the American diet—fish and seafood, poultry and dairy, and meats—are very different in terms of their overall nutritional value. And the frequency with which they should be included in meals. That is because the Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of fish and seafood over poultry and dairy products. The pyramid is supposed to be illustrative of the Mediterranean diet already considering this, so don't worry about it.

    Regarding fat consumption, the USDA food pyramid does not differentiate between good fats found in oils, nuts, and seeds and bad fats such as those found in saturated and trans fats. Instead, it recommends consuming a balance of all types of fats. Instead, every kind of fat belongs to the same category as a component of the same group. According to Knudsen, this continues to communicate all types of fats are the same and, as a result, one has to limit their consumption.

    Is The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid Still A Good model To Follow? 

    Is The Mediterranean Diet

    The USDA pyramid was regarded as a healthy paradigm to follow from 1992 to 2005. Even though the Mediterranean pyramid is still a fantastic model to reference today, you used the USDA pyramid from 1992 until 2005.

    "The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is flexible enough to be changed to a range of taste and dietary alternatives," such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc., adds Knudsen. "The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid has the potential to improve the health of people throughout the world." "The Pyramid Representing the Mediterranean Diet"

    She observes that "although this pyramid was developed in the '90s, it still represents the current practices and concepts of what characterizes a normal Mediterranean diet." It didn't come into existence until the 1990s." This pyramid remains to be an honest depiction of the current practices and concepts of what constitutes a Mediterranean diet. The focus of the Mediterranean diet is not on foods you should avoid but on adopting healthful eating patterns and consuming foods in their natural, unprocessed forms. That is in contrast to the traditional American diet, which places a greater emphasis on avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Moving away from focusing on foods that need to be avoided has been connected to improving people's health.

    Bottom line


    It has been demonstrated that adhering to a Mediterranean diet can help improve cardiovascular health, control weight, and metabolic diseases, and even delay the onset of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. You can attain these benefits through a combination of foods and cooking methods. In addition to not being highly restricted and simple to adhere to, the diet has also been demonstrated to help enhance one's general health, which is a significant plus. The Mediterranean Diet pyramid developed in the 1990s, is still consistent with the diet's most recent recommendations for healthy eating, even though it was designed at that time. Even though the pyramid has been present for over twenty years, this statement is still accurate.