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Why you should try the Mediterranean Diet

January 15, 2024 4 min read

Why you should try the Mediterranean Diet-VPA Australia

From the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the bustling markets of Morocco, the Mediterranean diet has stood the test of time not only a popular heart-healthy diet but also one that fits a lower weekly budget.  

With Australian dietary guidelines moving towards predominantly plant-based diets, a study compared food baskets among different diets and has found the Mediterranean diet to be more cost-effective than other standard diets, saving 28 Australian dollars per week while offering higher nutritional value.

“Many people may think that eating ‘healthy’ is expensive and it takes a lot of time to prepare and cook food,” says Karen Murphy, an associate professor at the University of Southern Australia. But factoring in its benefits and affordability, the Mediterranean diet is one that proves more benefits for your health and wellness.

Image Source: University of South Australia

How one can start a Mediterranean Diet

Originating from countries surrounding the Mediterranean, this diet is based on traditional ingredients and cooking styles. The Mediterranean diet emphasises:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, barley)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning with herbs and spices (basil, oregano, garlic, cumin)

Emphasis on Plant-based not meat-based

Plant foods are the main component of the Mediterranean diet. This means that vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains are the basis of most meals. The Mediterranean diet also includes moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs, as well as seafood. On the other hand, red meat is consumed only occasionally.

Emphasis on Wholefoods

Prioritise whole, unprocessed foods over highly processed options. Fresh, seasonal produce is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean Diet.

Reduce red and processed meats

Eat more fish, poultry or beans instead. If you eat meat, make sure it's lean and keep portions small. And before you cook it, first try to remove any fat you can see.

The Mediterranean diet has a lot of flexibility, so you can make it a delicious and nutritious way to eat. Incorporating the Mediterranean diet into daily life can seem daunting, but in reality, it's quite simple. Start by swapping out your usual ingredients for healthier options.  

For example, use olive oil instead of butter, or try whole grains like quinoa and brown rice instead of white bread or pasta. And remember, it’s not just about the food—it’s also important to incorporate regular physical activity for optimum health benefits.

While the primary focus of the Mediterranean diet is on the food you eat, it's important to remember that the lifestyle and approach to eating, typical of Mediterranean culture, also plays a significant role in the health benefits associated with the diet.  

Eat slowly, savour your food, and enjoy meals with friends and family. These habits can lead to healthier eating and more pleasure taken from your food, and they can even help you eat less and maintain a healthy weight.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet has gained recognition for its health benefits, and here are some of the key advantages:

1. Heart health

The Mediterranean Diet is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. It emphasises the consumption of heart-healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in arteries).

2. Weight management

This diet encourages the consumption of whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. It promotes satiety and can assist in weight management and weight loss when combined with a balanced calorie intake.

3. Diabetes prevention and management

The Mediterranean Diet has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar control, making it a valuable option for individuals with or at risk of type 2 diabetes.

4. Cancer prevention

Some studies suggest that the Mediterranean Diet may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer and breast cancer. The high intake of fruits, vegetables, and antioxidant-rich foods may play a role in this protective effect.

5. Cognitive health

There is evidence to suggest that following a Mediterranean Diet can be beneficial for brain health and may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease.

6. Longevity

Populations in Mediterranean countries have relatively high life expectancies, and their diet is believed to contribute to this longevity. The diet's focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods can support overall health and well-being.

7. Reduced inflammation

The Mediterranean Diet is rich in foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fatty fish. Reducing chronic inflammation is important for preventing various chronic diseases.

8. Improved gut health

The diet includes fibre-rich foods like whole grains and legumes, which can promote a healthy gut microbiome and digestive system.

It's important to note that the Mediterranean Diet is not just about individual foods but also about an overall dietary pattern that emphasises balance and moderation. While it offers numerous potential health benefits, as with anything in the health and wellness space, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making significant dietary changes to ensure that it's appropriate for your specific health needs and goals.


Whether you're looking to spice things up at home with a new diet, or improve your heart health, manage your weight, or simply enjoy a more balanced and joyful approach to food, the Mediterranean diet could be an excellent choice for you. Not only is it budget-friendly but it is also beneficial for your health and well-being.

As always, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. They can provide personalised advice based on your unique health needs and goals.

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