The Mediterranean diet is supposedly one of the healthiest you can try, but it doesn't mean endless bowls of pasta and all the pizza you can eat. Like any diet, the focus is on a healthy balance of foods to aid weight loss and create a healthy, sustainable eating pattern.
But what is okay to drink on the Mediterranean diet?
Water is always a great choice, but you have other options available to you. Unlike many other diets, the Mediterranean diet allows moderate alcohol intake and dairy products as well as healthy fats!
Find the full list of Mediterranean diet approved drinks below.
The Mediterranean countries that are largely or almost entirely bordering the Mediterranean Sea, namely Italy, Spain, and Greece, are the inspiration for this diet. Their inhabitants have historically relied on fresh produce grown in the region to fuel a healthy lifestyle.
Fish plays an integral role in the diet, of course, along with fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, olive oil, and legumes.
Alongside a daily routine that's filled with fresh air and exercise, this diet focuses on balancing each food group and limiting or removing processed foods.
The key is to remove processed food or stick to low-processed foods. As you are allowed deli meats, dairy, and even white bread on this diet, it's on you to add plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart healthy fats to your shopping list.
Start by adding more fish to your diet and eating whole foods, rather than pre-prepared or processed foods (e.g., look for foods that don't need an ingredients list because they are simply one ingredient). This also applies to the beverages you consume.
Aside from telling you to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, here's what you should stick to on this diet:
Many goods will have a label indicating levels of trans fats, saturated and unsaturated fats. You can also use the FoodData Central Index to find the nutritional value of any food.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on food groups that increase levels of unsaturated fats, while reducing levels of saturated fats. This alone can help with lowering cholesterol, which reduces your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular disease types. Unsaturated fats can also help to lower high blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke, and is great for reducing risks of heart disease and overall heart health.1
The diet reduces the amount of fruits and processed produce you consume, which can help to balance your blood sugar levels, prevent obesity, and there's an overall lower risk of weight gain. You can also use this diet to lose weight, particularly if you count calories and reduce the carbohydrates you consume even further.
Finally, the Mediterranean way of life and diet is associated with healthy cognitive function, brain health, and slower cognitive decline as we age. Some studies have even found that it's protective against Alzheimer's disease.2
There's a lot of advice on the many foods you can use to create a meal on the Mediterranean diet, but not much about what you can drink. As amazing as olive oil is, you can't exactly drink it.
So, you can stick to water - plain or sparkling - but there are some more flavorful options to explore too. Just like with eating habits, you need to avoid added sugar and overly processed drinks just like you would avoid processed foods.
Although the Mediterranean way focuses on foods that are naturally available around the Mediterranean Sea, there are still products from all over the world that you can eat or drink.
Here are our top 7 diet-approved drinks - some you can drink as much as you like, others should be limited to moderate amounts.
Tea is fine to drink on the Mediterranean diet. While coffee is far more popular than tea in Italy, Spain, and Greece, all three countries still consume moderate amounts of tea.3 You can even drink your tea with a little milk, although you should avoid adding sugar if you have a sweet tooth.
Our teas are non-GMO, contain only natural flavors and ingredients, and provide 3x the caffeine of regular tea! Our most Mediterranean teas are:
You can also try out our high caffeine sparkling teas, if you prefer iced tea to hot tea.
The Mediterranean diet is compatible with alcoholic drinks that fit the low carb and heart-healthy requirements of the diet. Red wine is the most suitable drink as a result. You can use red wine in cooking, or you can drink a glass or two with a meal. The key is to consume responsibly and moderately.
Studies have found that red wine has cardioprotective effects due to the phenolic compounds present, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.4 Drinking too much alcohol will have a negative effect on your health, however.
Consuming moderate amounts of coffee, either black or with milk, is acceptable on the Mediterranean low fat diet. Without adding sugar, coffee provides a considerable energy boost as well as plenty of antioxidants. Drinking coffee has been linked to short-term improvements in cognitive function, reduced risks of neurodegenerative diseases, and lower risks of liver disease.5
However, the high caffeine content can lead to anxiety, sleep troubles, and a significant energy crash later in the day. This is why high caffeine tea is preferable. Learn more in our article about switching from coffee to tea.
Water is your everyday drink, no matter your diet. Although the other drinks in our list are acceptable on the Mediterranean diet, they shouldn't replace the water you drink daily. Water rehydrates your body and contains 0 calories.
If you don't like to drink plain water, then try sparkling water with a slice or squeeze of lemon. Be careful with other fruit juices, however.
Drinking a glass of OJ is not the same as eating an actual orange. The juice doesn't contain the pulp of the fruit, just the sugars and liquids. Furthermore, you'll have the juice of several oranges compressed into your cup, especially if the fruit juice is from concentrate.
In comparison, eating an actual orange takes longer, provides more fiber, and forces you to slow down - you'll consume fewer calories over a longer period.
The most acceptable fruit juices on this diet are berry juices with no added sugar. Some dieters suggest cutting out all fruits besides berries altogether.
You can drink dairy on the Mediterranean diet, including cow's dairy and dairy alternatives (e.g. almond milk or soy milk). This also means that you can consume yogurt and cheese, although it still makes sense to reduce your consumption of these foods as they are high in calories and fats.
Unlike the paleo diet, however, you don't need to cut them out completely. A small amount of milk in your coffee is completely acceptable.
You should take the same attitude with fruit smoothies as those on the Whole30 diet (read our article about what to drink on Whole30). Consume in moderation! While smoothies are a step up from fruit juices and contain the entire fruit - fiber, nutrients, and all - they are still high in sugar and allow you to consume a vast number of fruits in a short space of time.
With Mediterranean diet smoothies, you can also add some dairy elements, nuts and seeds to balance out the fruit. Don't be afraid to try a vegetable smoothie too, just don't use them to replace eating fruit and veg in your diet naturally.
Yes, you can drink all Zest Tea beverages on the Mediterranean diet. You can also add a small amount of milk, if you like your black tea milky. However, adding sugar to your tea isn't in line with Mediterranean diet goals.
Berry juice without any added sugar is the best kind of fruit juice you can drink on the Mediterranean diet, for example, unsweetened cranberry juice. However, all fruit juices are quite high in sugar so you should consume them in moderation and never to replace fresh fruit in your diet.
Yes, you can drink milk - dairy or vegan alternative - on the Mediterranean diet.
It's not advisable to drink beer on this diet. Although the Mediterranean diet allows alcohol and doesn't ban the whole grains used to create beer, it's not considered a good alcohol for heart health and it also contains a significant amount of calories, which isn't great for a weight loss diet in general.
Water is the main drink you should consume. Staying hydrated comes with numerous health benefits. You can also drink red wine, tea, and coffee on this diet.
Weight loss can be one of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, especially if you reduce sugary foods and carbohydrates too. There's also some evidence that the diet is good for heart health, aging, and reducing cognitive decline.
The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world, rich in healthy fats from olive oil, fish, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. To find out if it's the right diet for you, seek advice from a nutritionist or medical health professional.