Five Diets Comparable to the Mediterranean Diet

February 2, 2020
The traditional Mediterranean diet is a reference for healthy eating patterns, but it's not the only healthy option. In this article, discover five diets that are comparable to the Mediterranean diet.

Are you looking for more diet options? Read this article if you’d like to learn about five diets that are just as healthy as the traditional Mediterranean diet.

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Five diets that can compete with the Mediterranean diet

Find out more about these five diets and all their health benefits. They include the:

  • Nordic diet
  • Paleo diet
  • Japanese diet
  • Vegetarian diet
  • The Harvard dish

The Nordic diet

Recently, the WHO (World Health Organization) has praised the benefits of the Nordic diet for the healthy eating habits it promotes. Its positive effects focus on reducing the risk of noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and various cardiovascular problems.

This diet is based on foods that come from countries located in northern Europe: Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark. Beginning in 2004, a group of chefs from these Nordic countries came together to develop the so-called New Nordic Diet. The objective of this diet is to promote the consumption of local, wild and fresh ingredients to enhance and improve health, gastronomy, sustainability and Nordic identity.

So, what are these foods? The basics include:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fruit and berries
  • Whole grains (rye, barley, and oats) and legumes
  • Fatty fish (herring, mackerel or salmon) several times a week
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Rapeseed oil
Satisfying foods five diets.

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The Paleo diet

It’s becoming increasingly more common to hear about the Paleo diet. Although this diet is becoming more popular little by little in Western society, this is actually the traditional diet of some groups that live in the Amazon rainforest, in the African savanna or on certain Pacific islands.

The Paleo diet, or Paleolithic diet, proposes a way of eating that takes into account our genetics and evolution as a species. This diet involves eating in a similar way to how our hunter ancestors did. As a result, this diet includes:

  • Vegetables
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Fish and seafood
  • Meat and innards
  • Eggs
  • Fruit

In turn, this diet completely cuts out dairy products, gluten, and grains. Medical studies indicate that this diet is effective if you want to achieve the following results:

  • Reduction of heart health risks.
  • Reduction in inflammation.
  • Weight loss.

The Japanese diet

The islands of Okinawa are located in southern Japan. They stand out on the world map, not only because of the beauty of the landscapes but also because of the longevity and superior health of the Japanese population. Among the many reasons for this longevity, the Japanese diet stands out without a doubt.  Additionally, many scientists have studied this diet.

However, these studies are lacking when it comes to assessing the effects the Japanese diet can have on non-Japanese people. This is perhaps the biggest difference between the Japanese and the Mediterranean or the Nordic diet.

The daily diet of the Japanese includes plenty of the following foods:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fish and cephalopods, such as squid or octopus, several days a week
  • Soy and its derivatives, such as tofu
  • Whole grains and sweet potato
  • Kombu seaweed

Another important characteristic of the Japanese diet is that they eat in small portions several times a day and with a wide variety of ingredients present in each meal.

The Vegetarian diet

The International Vegetarian Union defines the vegetarian diet as “a diet based on foods of plant origin, with or without dairy products, eggs and/or honey.”

This means that the diets of vegans, ovo vegetarians, ovo-dairy vegetarians, etc. can vary a bit. However, the basis for all of these diets is the same: plant-based foods. As a result, the vegetarian diet allows for a considerable contribution of foods rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and low in cholesterol and saturated fats.

Among the many benefits of this diet are:

  • Reduced risk of suffering from hypertension
  • Reduced risk of suffering from hypercholesterolemia
  • Less risk of suffering from heart problems
Ovovegetarian diet vegetarian five diets.

The Harvard healthy eating plate

The Healthy Eating Plate is a tool created by nutrition experts from the Harvard School of Public Health. This tool aims to be a guide to help the American population make better choices regarding their diet. Additionally, it’s a very visual tool that recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with some source of protein and another quarter with sources of carbohydrates.

Also, the Harvard plate focuses on the quality of the foods and not just on the quantity. For example, this diet also recommends eating whole grains instead of refined flour and drinking water instead of soft drinks or energy drinks. Moreover, Harvard warns not to follow low-fat diets but instead suggests choosing healthy vegetable oils and nuts.

Can these five diets compare with the Mediterranean diet?

All the diets listed here have proven to be healthy ways of eating. As you can see, they all have important qualities in common with the traditional Mediterranean diet:

  • All five of these diets are based on eating fresh and local products, rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
  • These diets also provide excellent sources of protein and healthy fats.
  • Under no circumstance do these diets suggest consuming processed foods or those rich in sugar and refined flours. Moreover, none of these diets include eating large quantities of red meat or saturated fats.

To conclude, the traditional Mediterranean diet is the best way to eat if you live around the Mediterranean area since the food products are local. However, similar diets are perfectly valid even if you live in a different area. That being said, you need to make sure your diet is well-planned and adapts to your individual needs and location.

Finally, be sure to include in your diet plenty of fresh foods such as olive oil, sardines, nuts or chickpeas. Don’t forget that for any diet to work, you must always keep up with other healthy lifestyle habits such as exercise.

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  • Galbete C et al. Nordic diet, Mediterranean diet, and the risk of chronic diseases: the EPIC-Potsdam study. BMC Medicine. June 2018. 16(1):99.
  • Li D. Effect of the vegetarian diet on non-communicable diseases. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Janvier 2014. 94(2): 169-73.
  • Miyagi S et al. Longevity and diet in Okinawa, Japan: the past, present and future. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health. 2003. Suppl:S3-9
  • Willcox DC et al. Healthy aging diets other than the Mediterranean: a focus on the Okinawan diet. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development. MArch-April 2014. Vols 136-137. Pp 148-162.