The Origins of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid finds its origins in the traditional products eaten in Greece, Crete and the South of Italy. During the 60s, it drew the attention of scientist that chronic diseases were not as common in these countries as they were in other parts of the world. Despite public health limitations at the time, the expected average life was also the highest.

Scientists found that it all was related to what they ate. Then, they started working on the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid to replicate the successful nutritional results of such diet.

Other important habits related to the good effects of the Mediterranean Diet were socialization, exercise, and the taste for eating. Unfortunately, these practices are more related to the culture and are not easily replicated in other parts of the world.

After the initial research much has been talked and written about the Mediterranean Diet. In the end, it all converged in the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. It was created in 1993. The pyramid was the result of research done by the WHO and Harvard’s Division of Public Health. They gathered together all the information about the Mediterranean Diet available at the time and put it in a 5-floor pyramid to illustrate how it works.


Mediterranean diet pyramid

The Base of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The base is the basis of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. It relates to habits of life, which is believed plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of the pyramid. It includes having physical activity, enjoying your meals, and sharing them with others.

The base is important because the way the human body is digesting anything it eats is directly affected by these factors. It is also an indicator of the mental health of people, which can be critical to the overall body functions, including the digestive path. Therefore, it is seen as the foundation of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

Everyday Food on the First Step of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Daily food is the first level of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. It is a set of meals people eat on a daily basis. They add vitamins and minerals mostly. The following is a list of the groups of meals included in this step:

  • Beans
  • Fruits
  • Herbs
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Seeds
  • Spices
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

As you can see, all these are healthy options for your meals. They are all meant to be cooked together. In particular spices and the olive oil are essential ingredients in Mediterranean cooking.

Food for 2-3 Times a Week on the Second Step of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Next, come the food people should eat 2 to 3 times per week. They are the second level of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. These meals include:

  • Fish
  • Seafood

They add the necessary proteins your body needs, complementing the first step perfectly.

Just a Few of the Fourth Step of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Getting just a few of the fourth step is the best way to complement the Mediterranean Diet. They go up on the pyramid because the portions must be moderated. These meals include:

  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Yogurt

The importance of all these meals comes in regular consumption but with moderation. Eating them in excess would deform the pyramid, and the desired results would not be obtained.

Even Fewer of the Top Steps of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The top step comes for the meals you should eat the least often. They can go with your meals in moderate portions 1 or 2 times per week. They include:

  • Meat
  • Sweets

Deserts, in general, fall into the sweets category and should be eaten in moderation. For people who cannot skip desserts, fresh fruit is the option, as it is at the pyramid’s base.

As for meat, it is good to complement proteins, and by having it with moderation, the unwanted fats that come with it are kept under control. Mediterranean people usually eat meat with a whole bunch of vegetables. They rarely cook a steak and eat it alone, but slice strips of steak and mix it with vegetables or pasta. That way, meat is eaten in small amounts and complemented with meals coming from the first step.


Statistics speak for themselves showing how the Mediterranean Diet is capable of improving health and life expectancy. As for the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, it pictures perfectly the whole lifestyle from the Mediterranean zone. It is not just about food, but about how you live, and the base is there to reinforce it.