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Mediterranean food pyramid

Mediterranean food pyramid
Mediterranean food pyramid

This Mediterranean Pyramid, which represents the optimal, traditional Mediterranean diet, is based on the dietary traditions of Crete and southern Italy in the 1960s. It is structured in the light of nutritional research conducted in 1993 and presented by Professor Walter Willet during the 1993 International Conference on Mediterranean Nutrition in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid underscores the importance of the foods that make up the major food groups. Each of these individual food groups provides some, but not all, of the nutrients one needs. Foods from one group cannot replace those from another group. All groups are necessary for a healthy diet.

The basic products of the Mediterranean diet, in descending order of recommended amount and frequency, are:


These form the basis of most meals in Mediterranean countries - bread (whole wheat or not), pasta, couscous, and rice.

fruit and vegetables

Meals are tastier when seasonal products are chosen and prepared very simply. In Mediterranean countries, the dessert is usually fruit.

legumes and nuts

A variety of legumes and nuts, such as chickpeas, lentils, haricot beans, pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc. are used in cooking.

olive oil and olives

"Olive Oil" and "Virgin Olive Oil" are used throughout the Mediterranean. The former is usually used for cooking. The latter, suitable for all uses, is excellent when consumed raw to best appreciate its aroma and flavor and get the most out of all its natural components. The proportion of fats in the traditional Cretan diet observed by Professor Ancel Keys was more than 40% kcal/day, of which 8% were saturated fats, 3% polyunsaturated, and 29% monounsaturated fats (olive oil).

Dairy products

Cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products, with no specific mention of milk.


Offered as a premium protein, ahead of eggs and poultry.

The highest point of the pyramid, meaning its least recommended consumption, is occupied by red meat, and just below, but also of minor importance, are sweets and pastries. Regular physical activity and proper hydration are critical to maintaining good health and optimal weight. Wine can be consumed in moderation, mainly with meals (1-2 glasses/day). It is optional and should be avoided if it endangers individuals or others.

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