What Are the Main Sources of Protein in the Mediterranean Diet

protein on the mediterranean diet

Have you ever wondered what kinds of protein people eat in the Mediterranean diet? Well, you’re in for a treat because we’re going on a tasty journey to find out! The Mediterranean diet is famous for being super healthy, and proteins play a big part in it. So, buckle up and get ready to discover the main sources of protein that make this diet so awesome. Let’s dive into the yummy world of Mediterranean proteins together!

What are the main sources of protein in the Mediterranean diet?

In the Mediterranean diet, the main sources of protein come from both land and sea, making it super interesting and healthy! First up, we have seafood like fish and shellfish, which are really popular. People love eating salmon, tuna, and shrimp because they’re not only tasty but also packed with good fats that are great for the heart.

Next, there’s chicken and turkey, which are awesome because they’re lean, meaning they don’t have much fat but are still full of protein. These are often cooked with olive oil and herbs, making them super flavorful.

Don’t forget about plant-based proteins! Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are big stars in the Mediterranean diet. They’re used in salads, soups, and even mashed into spreads like hummus.

Nuts and seeds, like almonds and sunflower seeds, are also important. They’re perfect for a quick snack and give a nice protein boost.

Lastly, dairy products like Greek yogurt and cheese are enjoyed in moderation. They add a delicious creamy texture and are another great source of protein.

So, the Mediterranean diet is full of diverse protein sources, making every meal not just a feast for the taste buds but also a powerhouse of nutrition!

Why is Protein Important in Your Diet?

Protein is super important in our diet for many reasons. Here are some bullet points to explain why:

  • Builds and Repairs Muscles: Protein is like the body’s building block. It helps fix tiny tears in muscles from running or playing sports, making them stronger.
  • Keeps Bones Healthy: Just like it helps muscles, protein is important for strong bones. It works with calcium to keep our bones tough and ready for action.
  • Fights Off Germs: Protein helps make antibodies, which are like little soldiers in our body that fight off germs and keep us from getting sick.
  • Gives Energy: When we’re low on energy, protein can step in and give us a boost. It’s like fuel for our body’s engine.
  • Helps You Feel Full: Eating foods with protein can make you feel full and satisfied, so you’re less likely to snack on junk food.

So, including protein in your meals and snacks is a great way to keep your body healthy and strong!

What Types of Proteins Can You Eat On The Mediterranean Diet?

On the Mediterranean diet, you can eat lots of different proteins that are really good for you. Here are some of them:

  1. Fish and Seafood: Like salmon, tuna, and shrimp, these are super healthy and have lots of good fats called omega-3s that are great for your heart.
  2. Chicken and Turkey: These are lean meats, which means they don’t have a lot of fat, making them a good choice for getting protein.
  3. Legumes: These are things like beans, lentils, and chickpeas. They are not only full of protein but also have lots of fiber and nutrients.
  4. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are tasty snacks that give you protein and keep you full.
  5. Dairy: Foods like Greek yogurt, cheese, and milk are part of the Mediterranean diet and give you a good amount of protein.
  6. Eggs: They are a simple and easy way to get protein and can be cooked in lots of different yummy ways.

So, in the Mediterranean diet, you can enjoy a variety of proteins from both animals and plants, which helps keep your meals interesting and healthy!

What Proteins Do You Want to Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet


On the Mediterranean diet, the focus is on consuming lean and plant-based proteins, while avoiding or limiting certain types of protein, such as:

  1. Processed Meats: These include sausages, bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats like salami and pepperoni. Processed meats are often high in saturated fats, salt, and preservatives, which are not heart-healthy.
  2. Red Meat: While not completely off-limits, red meat like beef, pork, and lamb should be eaten sparingly. It’s recommended to limit red meat to a few times a month because it’s often higher in saturated fat compared to poultry and fish.
  3. High-Fat Dairy Products: Full-fat dairy products like whole milk, cream, and butter are used less frequently in the Mediterranean diet. Instead, lower-fat dairy options are preferred.
  4. Fried and Breaded Proteins: Foods that are deep-fried or have a breaded coating are often high in unhealthy fats and calories. Grilled, baked, or steamed proteins are better choices.
  5. Non-Organic or Factory-Farmed Meats: These might contain hormones and antibiotics and are less likely to be part of the traditional Mediterranean diet. Opting for organic, free-range, and grass-fed options when available is more in line with Mediterranean eating principles.

In general, the Mediterranean diet encourages eating fish, seafood, poultry, legumes, nuts, and seeds as primary protein sources while reducing the intake of processed, fried, and red meats to support overall health.

Samples of Mediterranean Seafood Recipes

Mediterranean Shrimp and Tomato Pasta


  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, mincedMediterranean Shrimp and Tomato Pasta IG
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces whole wheat pasta


  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 3-4 minutes. Remove shrimp from the skillet.
  4. In the same skillet, add cherry tomatoes and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in white wine and let it simmer until reduced by half.
  5. Return shrimp to the skillet, add cooked pasta and basil, and toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve hot, garnished with additional basil if desired.

Mediterranean Baked Cod with Lemon and Capers


  • 4 cod filletsMediterranean Baked Cod with Lemon and Capers IG
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Place cod fillets in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle minced garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper over the fillets.
  3. Arrange lemon slices on top of the fillets and scatter capers around them.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the cod is flaky and cooked through.
  5. Serve hot, spooning the lemony, caper-infused sauce over the fish

Main Sources of Protein in the Mediterranean Diet Summary

To wrap it up, the Mediterranean diet is packed with delicious and healthy proteins from both the land and sea. From fish and chicken to beans and nuts, there are so many tasty ways to get protein in this diet. These foods are not just good for your muscles, but they also help keep your whole body healthy. So, if you want to eat like you’re on a sunny Mediterranean vacation, try adding these protein-packed foods to your meals. You’ll get to enjoy lots of flavors and keep your body strong and happy!

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What are the main sources of protein in the Mediterranean diet


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