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What Foods Are Not Allowed in the Mediterranean Diet?

What Foods Are Not Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet

Are you interested in the unique and healthy diet that folks in the Mediterranean region have had for centuries? Then, you’re probably curious about what type of food they eat and avoid. The dietary regimen is for sure quite flexible, however, there are foods that are considered unhealthy. So, what foods are not allowed on the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet prohibits the consumption of processed foods, refined sugars, refined grains, and trans fats. Additionally, the diet limits the intake of red meat and high-fat dairy products. In addition, the consumption of alcohol is restricted, with the exception of red wine, which you can have in moderation.

Read on to find out more about the dos and don’ts of the Mediterranean diet.

Key Takeaways

  • To follow the Mediterranean diet, it's important to avoid processed foods. These include refined sugars, refined grains, and trans fats.
  • The diet limits the intake of red meat, high-fat dairy products, and foods that are high in saturated fat, such as butter and cream.
  • Avoiding processed foods can improve your overall health. It will also reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

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What Foods to Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet

Foods to Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet promotes the consumption of healthy whole foods. So, anything that has been processed or contains additives is considered unhealthy.

Here are the main types of foods that are not allowed on the Mediterranean diet:

Processed Meat & Foods

Bacon, sausages, and hot dogs are a no-no when it comes to following the Mediterranean style of eating. They might be yummy but contain high amounts of salt, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. Consuming these processed meats can lead to chronic diseases, such as various heart conditions, stroke and cancer.

Instead, consume lean types of meat, such as chicken, fish and other kinds of seafood.

Refined Grains

Refrained grains can come in the form of white bread and pasta. They are low in fiber and have a higher glycemic index. The consumption of refined grains can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. This can lead to obesity or type 2 diabetes.

Instead, go for whole grains and whole wheat foods.

Hydrogenated Oils

Oils, such as vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, and the like, are processed oils where extremely high heat is used during the manufacturing process. This way the oil becomes oxidized and when consumed, it creates free radicals, which are damaging to your cells.

Instead, eat healthy oils like olive oil to prevent your body from aging before its time.

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Processed Dairy Products

Cheese slices and spreads are a good example of processed dairy food. Cream and butter that contain trans fats and additives are also not allowed on the Mediterranean diet. Emulsifiers and artificial coloring are only part of the list of additives processed dairy products contain.

So, avoid eating those and focus on consuming whole cheeses, say, a couple of times a week or in moderation.

Other Processed Foods & Prepackaged Desserts

Processed desserts and prepackaged foods, in general, contain high amounts of sugar, sodium, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and colorings. They might be tasty, but are also highly addictive and not great for your health.

Furthermore, consuming reagularly processed desserts and convenient fast foods will just make you crave for more. Such prepackaged meals and products are low in fiber and contain hardly any micronutrients.

So, consider satisfying your sweet tooth by eating fresh fruits, dark chocolate and the occasional homemade whole-food dessert.


The Mediterranean diet does not promote the consumption of alcohol, such as cocktails and spitits, as it can harm your health. Red wine, however, is recommended. It contains resveratrol, a compound that is proven to be beneficial for your heart.

Only one to two drinks per day for women and men are recommended.

Related: What Is the Mediterranean Diet and How to Get Started?

What Foods Are Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?

Mediterranean Diet Grains

If you're taken by the Mediterranean style of eating, then whole healthy foods is what you need to consume. They are full of good fiber and plenty of macro and micronutrients, which can help you maintain good energy levels and great overall health.

Also, by avoiding foods that have been chemically processed, you'll enjoy a longer life, free of any serious chronic medical conditions.

Here are what types of common foods the traditional Mediterranean diet promotes as being healthy and beneficial:


Seafood, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Having seafood in your diet will benefit your heart health and brain function.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Not only does olive oil lower your bad cholesterol levels but it also reduces the risk of having a heart disease. As a great source of unsaturated fatty acids, EVOO should be your primary choice when it comes to adding healthy fats to your diet.


Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries are all very rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect your body from free radicals. They also contain fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and promotes a healthy digestive system.


Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are good sources of healthy fats, proteins, and fiber. Nuts will give you a healthy heart, while also lowering your cholesterol levels.

Whole Grains

As part of the Mediterranean diet, whole grain rice and pasta are present in a wide range of recipes. Whole grains are preferred because they regulate blood sugar levels and promote a healthy digestive system.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are full of vitamins and other nutrients. Eat them fresh as a salad side dish or incorporate them as additional ingredients into a paella dish or a hearty stew.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are the flavor of the Mediterranean diet. Garlic, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme are among the most used herbs and spices by Mediterranean diet followers. By enriching your recipes with a variety of herbs, you'll soon find that you don't crave salt so much. And low-sodium foods are a key to healthy eating.


Peas, soybeans, and lentils are good sources of protein. Not only will you get proteins with your meal, but you will also have a diet rich in fiber and healthy fats. Legumes will lower your bad cholesterol while also reducing the risk of heart disease.

Fruit and Vegetables

The diet also includes a variety of fruits and vegetables. Ranging from tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges, and grapes, you should eat them fresh or roasted, in order to include healthy amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Red Wine

You can have a glass of red wine with your meal, as consuming wine is considered healthy by experts. It contains antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease. However, excessive alcohol consumption can have negative health effects, so drinking in moderation is important.

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Can You Eat Potatoes on the Mediterranean Diet?

The short answer is yes. Whether white or sweet potatoes, they are allowed on the Mediterranean diet even though they might be viewed as high-carb food. Potatoes are highly favored, as they not only have high levels of potassium but also contain vitamin C and vitamin B6.

Is Rice Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?

Having different types of rice can be confusing as to whether all are allowed on the Mediterranean diet. Worry not because you can consume any type of rice, while on the diet, be it white, brown, or basmati rice. Still, whole grain rice is preferable, as it contains more fiber and various micronutritious.

What Foods Are Not Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet? FAQs

Q: Is Mayo Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?

A: Mayonnaise is processed food that contains inflammatory vegetable fats. So, mayo is not allowed on the Mediterranean diet. You can substitute Mayo with Greek yogurt or avocados to make your sandwich, which will be still tasty, but far healthier.

Q: Are Eggs Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?

A: Yes, eggs are allowed on the Mediterranean diet. However, they are higher up in the so-called Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, therefore consume eggs in moderation.

Q: Can You Eat Peanut Butter on the Mediterranean Diet?

A: Yes, you can eat peanut butter, as it contains unsaturated fats, so peanut butter is a natural fit for the diet.

Q: Can You Eat Bananas on the Mediterranean Diet?

A: Yes, you can eat bananas on the Mediterranean diet.

Related: Mediterranean Diet vs Paleo: Which One Is Right for You?


The Mediterranean diet promotes healthy eating that focuses on the consumption of healthy whole foods. And although it can be rather flexible, the diet has some key restrictions. For instance, you are not allowed to eat processed foods that contain additives, preservatives and hydrogenated oils. Processed meats, such as sausages and bacon; refined grains; sugary drinks and packaged snacks are not allowed on the Mediterranean diet.

Processed foods can be detrimental to your overall health. So, by following the diet, you will enjoy benefits, such as healthier heart and better cognitive function. Avoiding the foods in this guide will also help you reduce inflammation. Last but not least, you'll enjoy a healthier way of eating that is not only more satisfying but also tastier.