Mediterranean Diet V/s Other Diets – A Comparison

Zoomi Singh

October 12, 2022

If you’re looking for new diets to try, you’ve indeed come across a plethora of them. From the keto diet to the flexitarian diet to the Mediterranean diet, sorting through the hype and deciding which plan to follow can be difficult.

Considering that no single diet will suit everybody, it’s critical to pick a dietary plan that fits your lifestyle, promotes excellent health, is sustainable over time, and encourages you to listen to your body.

A regimen that allows you to preserve your love for food while including your ethnic dishes is equally essential. Some diets focus on weight loss, while others restrict calories, carbohydrates, or fat. It’s difficult to tell which ones are worth trying because they all claim to be superior to the rest.

Mediterranean Diet – An Overview

As the name suggests, the Mediterranean diet has its roots in the Mediterranean region. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, and seafood are part of a traditional Mediterranean diet.

In place of fried chicken, the mediterraneans prefer fish. Instead of a white-flour roll, they use brown rice. They Use olive oil instead of butter, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Simple swaps like these put the Mediterranean diet’s heart-healthy, life-extending power on your plate—and delightfully.

However, there are various forms of the Mediterranean diet since the traditional diets of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea differ slightly. Nevertheless, research on more than 1.5 million healthy adults found that following the Mediterranean diet is linked to a considerable increase in health and a lower risk of cardiovascular death and total mortality. 

This diet has several more things to offer. Besides consuming healthy foods, it entails eating with family and engaging physical activities. On a similar note, studies show that commitment to a Mediterranean diet can significantly reduce the risk of overall mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer incidence, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease risk. Perks like these and many more increases the weight of the Mediterranean diet over other diets. 

The HealthifyMe Note: 

Whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, and other plant-based foods make up most of the Mediterranean diet. Animal proteins get consumed in smaller quantities. This diet eliminates or limits foods such as red meat, sweets, and butter. Hence, it has several health benefits, including lower cholesterol, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly preventing and treating diabetes, and aiding in weight loss.

How Does The Diet Plan Work?

The Mediterranean diet consists mainly of plant-based foods such as whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices.

Other foods, such as animal proteins, are consumed in smaller quantities, with fish and seafood favouring animal protein. Although the pyramid shape advises what foods to finish (e.g. eat more fruits and vegetables and less dairy), it does not prescribe portion sizes or amounts. Individuals must select how much food to take at each meal, which will vary depending on physical activity and body size.

In the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is the primary source fat. The monounsaturated fat in olive oil helps lower total cholesterol and LDL (or the ‘bad’) cholesterol. Nuts and seeds also contain monounsaturated fat.

Fatty fish, including mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids help the body fight inflammation.

Consider fish over animal protein at least twice weekly and have smaller portions of chicken, eggs, and dairy (cheese or yoghurt) daily or a few times a week. Use water as the primary daily beverage while allowing moderate amounts of wine with meals (one to two glasses for males and one for women).

Foods Included in the Mediterranean Diet

The new Mediterranean diet pyramid features the same food categories as the old one but recommends fewer carbohydrates due to the increasingly sedentary nature of the modern lifestyle. A Mediterranean diet meal plan based on the new Mediterranean diet pyramid would be:

  • Oatmeal with Walnuts for Breakfast
  • Fruit for snack
  • Green Salad with Olives, Chickpeas, and Cucumbers for Lunch
  • Nuts (snack)
  • Cod with Vegetables and Couscous for Dinner

Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

You can reduce your risk of specific health problems and sufficiently avoid others by eliminating meals like red meat, sweets, and butter. Here are four ways that following a Mediterranean diet can help you stay healthy: 

Lowers Your Cholesterol

When one is on a Mediterranean diet, many high cholesterol items get avoided or, at the very least, are reduced. According to research, more than half of the fat calories in typical Mediterranean diet items come from monounsaturated fats, primarily olive oil. Saturated fat, found in foods like fatty meat, butter, and cheese, raises blood cholesterol levels, whereas this type of fat does not. 

Start by replacing most of your butter with a tiny amount of olive oil, half of your meat with beans, most of your soda with water, and a dessert with daily fresh fruit if you wish to adopt the Mediterranean eating pattern. These slight modifications can have a significant impact on your health.

Lowers Risk of Heart Diseases 

High cholesterol levels in the arteries can cause coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease (CAD). Your heart may be unable to provide your body with the blood it requires due to CAD, which can result in an irregular heartbeat or even heart failure.

However, heart disease is less common in Mediterranean countries, and heart disease death rates are also lower. This could be because the meals they eat have less saturated fat, the sort of fat that causes cholesterol to build up in your blood.

Can Prevent and Treat Diabetes

People with diabetes have a difficult time converting food into energy. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood, causing heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and other complications.

Diets strong in plant-based foods and low in animal-based fatty foods, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been demonstrated in studies to help prevent and control diabetes.

Foods from the Mediterranean diet help manage blood sugar levels, a significant concern for people with diabetes. The diet may also aid in preventing diabetes complications such as heart disease, renal disease, and sexual dysfunction.

It Helps in Losing Weight 

Losing weight is a bonus benefit of the Mediterranean diet. This diet may also be more helpful in assisting weight loss than a low-fat diet with strict fat restrictions. It may also be as successful as commercial diets, which require you to follow a challenging (and frequently expensive) plan.

Mediterranean Diet vs Other Diets

There are no restrictions on a Mediterranean diet, so there’s nothing to avoid – you can’t eat as much as you want. Also, this can make it refreshing for folks who don’t want to eliminate specific meals.

The Mediterranean diet follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutritional standards (USDA). It focuses on making long-term, sustainable changes beneficial to your health and longevity.

Flexitarian Diet 

The Flexitarian Diet, which is relatively new on the scene, is a primarily vegetarian diet with occasional fish and meat consumption. It covers all food groups but prioritises nutrient-dense foods, such as plant-based proteins like peanuts, peanut butter, seeds, tofu, and so on, similar to the Mediterranean Diet. Flexitarians include meat or fish in their meals on some days of the week, but not every day.

Health Benefits of Flexitarian Diet 

Flexitarian eating may provide various health benefits, says research. However, because the Flexitarian Diet lacks a precise definition, it’s difficult to say whether and how other plant-based diets help. Even so, research on vegan and vegetarian diets continues to help demonstrate how semi-vegetarian diets may benefit health.

Healthy Heart

Heart health benefits from fibre-rich and healthy fat-rich diets. Ischemic heart disease was reduced by 13% and 22% among fish eaters and vegetarians, respectively, compared to meat-eaters. According to studies, flexitarian eating, on the other hand, is designed to be primarily plant-based and will likely provide similar health benefits to purely vegetarian diets.

Diabetes Control

A healthy diet, predominantly plant-based, may aid in preventing and managing diabetes. Also, this is most likely because plant-based diets encourage weight loss by containing a variety of high-fibre meals.

In addition, they are low in unhealthy fats and added sugar. Further research indicated that persons with type 2 diabetes who followed a plant-based diet had a lower HbA1c (3-month average of blood sugar readings) than those who followed a conventional diet.

Cancers Prevention

Dietary patterns high in nutritious plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, and legumes and low in ultra-processed foods can reduce the risk of malignancies. In addition, vegetarian diets can lower the overall incidence of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer.

Environment Friendly 

The Flexitarian Diet may be beneficial to both you and the environment.

Reduced meat consumption can aid in preserving natural resources by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and land and water use. According to research on the sustainability of plant-based diets, transitioning from the average Western diet to flexitarian eating could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7%. It involves partially replacing meat with plant foods, 

Keto Diet

The term “ketogenic” refers to a low-carb diet (like the Atkins diet). The idea is to eat more protein and fat calories while reducing carbs intake. Sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread are the most straightforward carbs to take off your list. It’s vital to remember that the ketogenic diet is a weight-loss diet rather than a health-promoting one.

Weight loss

The weight loss is fuelled by water deficiency due to cutting carbs from your diet, as your body uses up the carbohydrates stored in the liver, which holds onto water. In addition, because the diet encourages you to eat whole, high-fat foods, you will lose even more weight. According to research, low-carb diets almost always result in more weight loss in the near term than low-fat diets.

Health Benefits

In addition to weight loss, the keto diet provides several health benefits to its followers. 

Prevents Some Diseases

The diet plan may help treat or prevent disorders other than epilepsy.

  • Metabolic Syndrome: People with metabolic diseases who follow a ketogenic diet lose more weight and body fat than those who follow a conventional American diet high in processed foods and added sugars.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Studies show that the keto diet may help people suffering from Type  2 Bipolar Disorder by acting as a mood stabiliser
  • Obesity: according to research, obese people who followed a low-calorie ketogenic diet lost more weight and inflammatory visceral (belly) fat than those who followed a traditional low-calorie diet. 
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): Some doctors advocate the keto diet for women with PCOS and infertility disorder which puts them at risk for diabetes and obesity.
Appetite Reduction

Dieting’s worst negative effect is hunger. It’s one of the key reasons why so many give up. A low-carb diet causes an automatic decrease in appetite. However, studies show that cutting carbs can reduce your hunger and calorie intake and thus keep you committed to your promise. 

Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a crucial risk factor for various illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Low-carb diets effectively lower blood pressure, which should help you live longer and reduce your chance of developing certain conditions.

DASH Diet 

According to research, starting the DASH diet may be one of your doctor’s strategies for lowering your high blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop hypertension. DASH diets with calorie restrictions produced much better results. Its purpose is to help people change their eating habits to incorporate healthy foods, which help them avoid high blood pressure. Also, consuming a range of foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium while still high in nutritional value reduces sodium intake.

The diet is straightforward:

  • Increase your intake of fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Reduce the amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats in your diet.
  • Limit sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats while increasing whole-grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts.

Health Benefits

Reduction in Blood pressure: 

Blood pressure often reduces a few points after just two weeks of following the DASH diet. If continued, the systolic blood pressure can drop by eight to fourteen points. DASH diet is known as the first-line pharmacologic therapy along with lifestyle changes. 

Prevents and Treats Metabolic Diseases: 

The DASH diet’s balanced food intake reduces metabolic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and cerebrovascular illness by lowering fat consumption and increasing the replacement of complex carbs for simple sugars. Lower total and LDL cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure, result.

Lowering Cholesterol Levels:

According to the data, the DASH diet’s balanced food intake reduces the risk of metabolic diseases like cardiovascular ailments, diabetes and cerebrovascular illness by lowering fat consumption and increasing complex carbs intake over simple sugars. As a result, it lowers total and LDL cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure. 

Paleo Diet

Lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, initially only available through hunting and gathering, make up a paleo diet. In other words, the Paleo diet encourages the consumption of food from the palaeolithic age i.e. before the beginning of agriculture. These foods include dairy products, beans, and grains.

Although it is impossible to know what our forefathers ate in different parts of the world, scholars assume their diets comprise complete foods. Hunter-gatherers had lower lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes or heart disease because they ate a diet and were physically active. The diet includes 

  • Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, hog, and other meats.
  • Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, and other seafood.
  • Free-range, pastured, or omega-3 fortified eggs. 
  • Broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and other vegetables.
  • Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits.
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, and other tubers.
  • Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and other healthy fats and oils.
  • Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, and other seasonings.

Health Benefits

Balances Blood Glucose Levels

It’s simpler to avoid blood glucose rise when you limit refined sugar, and it also helps you avoid the exhaustion that comes with sugar dumps. 

Keeps You Satiated

Most diets keep you hungry. But a Paleo diet focuses on feeling full and happy, making it simpler to stick to and reducing the likelihood of diet crashes and cheating because you’re encouraged to eat when you’re hungry.

Helps Prevent Diseases

When you eat a Paleo diet, you eat more anti-inflammatory foods and eliminate several foods that induce inflammation. You’re also consuming more antioxidants and phytonutrients, often in the news due to scientific evidence that they can help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Weight loss

The paleo diet can help people lose weight quickly by removing processed foods, sweets, and carbohydrates if the emphasis is on incorporating unprocessed foods and plenty of vegetables. 

Raw Diet 

The raw food diet, also known as raw veganism or raw foodism, consists of primarily or entirely natural and unprocessed foods. Raw food is an item that does not get heat over 104°F (40°C). It is not refined, pasteurised, pesticide-treated, or processed in any other way. Instead, the diet allows for juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting as alternatives to cooking. Raw food diets, like veganism, are mostly plant-based, consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

  • All fresh fruits are good to eat.
  • All vegetables are raw.
  • Raw nuts and seeds. 
  • Sprouting or soaking grains and legumes.
  • Meats and dried fruits. 
  • Milk and butter from nuts
  • Olive and coconut oils, both cold-pressed
  • Kimchi and sauerkraut are examples of fermented foods.
  • Seaweed
  • Sprouts
  • If desired, raw eggs or dairy.
  • If desired, serve raw meat or fish.

Health Benefits

  1. Raw food diets are low in calories, high in fibre, and mostly comprised of nutritious whole-plant foods. As a result, it aids in your weight loss. The diet, however, is nutritionally poor and exceedingly restrictive, making it difficult to maintain over time.
  2. Raw foods are often linked to lower body fat.
  3. According to a survey, a raw food diet reduced blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels in one trial of persons who followed it.

The HealthifyMe Note: 

The Mediterranean diet highlights long-term, sustainable changes that benefit your health. Compared to other fad diets, this diet contains more good fats, plant-based foods, and less meat and carbs. It is not a restrictive diet; as a result, not too many foods are not part of it. It is an approach that gradually becomes a habit. 

Advantages of Mediterranean diet vs other Similar Diets 

The Mediterranean diet has many characteristics of other popular diets, yet it is more flexible. It’s also highly well-researched, something that many popular diet plans lack.

The Mediterranean diet, which is more of a lifestyle than a diet, and arguably a better option for long-term weight loss. It is easier than a more stringent paleo diet, which may be more challenging to keep to over time.

The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating pattern that can help you avoid heart disease, live longer, and age better. The diet, when paired with calorie restriction, can assist people in losing weight safely.

  • All of the major food groups are present.
  • Different flavours.
  • It may be less challenging to stick to than more stringent diets such as keto.

We don’t like to pick winners, but when it comes to keto vs the Mediterranean, the winner is clear: the Mediterranean diet can improve heart health and general longevity, but the keto diet, while effective for weight reduction, is not a healthy eating plan in the long run.

DASH and Mediterranean diets are plant-based eating plans that boost heart health and fit recommendations for cancer prevention. Either option is significantly healthier than the regular American diet. However, the latter is more flexible than the DASH Diet regarding eating. It’s even better if you’re a foodie who can’t live without your favourite dishes. 

A flexitarian diet, like the Mediterranean diet, should be doable for most people over time. If you consume a lot of animal products, the shift may be challenging, but the plan is flexible enough that you can follow it in any way you like.


Making long-term, sustainable dietary modifications is part of the Mediterranean diet. A diet rich in natural foods, such as an abundance of vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, should be the goal.

The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating pattern for preventing cardiovascular diseases, increasing lifespan, and ageing. In addition, the diet can help people lose weight safely when combined with calorie restriction.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q. How is the Mediterranean diet different from other diets?

A. The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that concentrates on the traditional foods of the Mediterranean Sea’s surrounding countries. This eating style prioritises plant foods, incorporates animal foods, mainly fish and sparingly uses sweets, red meat, and processed meats.

Q. What diet is better than the Mediterranean diet?

A. The vegan diet outperforms the Mediterranean diet with respect to weight loss and cholesterol control. According to a new study, a low-fat vegan diet has excellent weight, body composition, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels compared to a Mediterranean diet.

Q. Is the Mediterranean diet the healthiest diet in the world?

A. According to U.S. News and World Report rankings, the Mediterranean diet will be the healthiest way to eat in 2022. Thanks to its high content of vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein, it takes the top spot for the sixth year in running. According to the experts, the diet is nutritious, flexible, and evidence-based. The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil, is widely regarded as the healthiest in the world.

Q. What diet is closest to the Mediterranean diet?

A. The DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet is analogous to the Mediterranean diet. It emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy while avoiding red meat and sweets.

Q. Is the keto or Mediterranean diet better?

A. The winner of the keto vs Mediterranean debate is clear: The Mediterranean diet has improved heart health and general longevity. However, while the keto diet may help you lose weight quickly, it’s not a healthy eating plan in the long run.

Q. Do doctors recommend the Mediterranean diet?

A. The Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables and whole grains, is the most common diet that doctors suggest and follow (in all three categories) (the same diet the U.S. News & World Report ranked No. 1). A Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, nuts, whole grains, extra-virgin olive oil, fish, and shellfish is excellent for improving cardiovascular health.

Q. Can you lose a lot of weight on the Mediterranean diet?

A. Studies have demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet leads to more weight loss than low-fat diets. It may also help to minimise the formation of abdominal fat. The risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes are high when fat gets accumulated in the abdomen rather than the hips or thighs.

Q. Are bananas OK on the Mediterranean diet?

A. Yes. Your diet should ideally consist of healthy Mediterranean foods: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and turnips are among the vegetables available. Examples of fruits include apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, and peaches.

Q. Is popcorn OK on the Mediterranean diet?

A. Yes as popcorn is a whole grain, it is a great snack while on a Mediterranean diet. However, use olive oil instead of butter and use herbs to season it replacing salt.

Q. Is peanut butter allowed on the Mediterranean diet?

A. Yes since peanuts and peanut butter are plant-based protein sources with strong unsaturated fats, they are a natural fit for Mediterranean diets..

About the Author

Zoomi, holds Masters degree in Nutritional Sciences from University of Allahabad, qualified CBSE-UGC-NET in Home Science and pursuing PhD in Nutritional Sciences, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj. A Strong research professional focused in Nutritional Sciences where she have more than 8 yrs of work experience in the field of Nutrition and Research, had work experience as a Dietician at Super-specialty hospitals. Skilled in Weight Management, Hypertension, Diabetes and Micronutrient related deficiencies. Additionally, she is well-versed in biostatistics and proficient in statistical tools such as SPSS and STATA. She is endowed with strong writing abilities and has authored her own book, more than six research papers, and six book chapters. Holder of various awards like Excellent Dietician, 2019 and 2020 by Saksham Society, Jaipur, Rajasthan, Academic Excellence at National Conference by Jayoti Vidyapeeth Women’s University, Jaipur (Rajasthan), India and Research Achievement Award-2020 for Research & Innovation by ACAIRS Global Network Pvt. Ltd. Life Member of Nutrition Society of India, NIN, Hyderabad and participated and presented papers in four International and six National conferences. Zoomi believes the right habits play the most crucial role in one’s health and wellness journey. The key to fit body is a fit mind and mental state.

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