A Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh produce, healthy fats, and limited red meat. Research shows this diet may reduce inflammation, lowering the risk of certain health conditions.

The term “Mediterranean diet” describes the dietary pattern of individuals living in countries near the Mediterranean Sea. This diet may be naturally anti-inflammatory.

This article examines whether the Mediterranean diet reduces inflammation, the types of foods to consume and avoid with this diet, an example meal plan, and other health benefits of eating this way.

A note on the word “diet”

The word “diet” has many meanings. This article uses it to refer to an eating lifestyle rather than a temporary change in how a person eats.

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Certain lifestyle and dietary changes, such as following a Mediterranean diet, may reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Generally, people who consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber have lower incidences of inflammatory diseases.

Research from 2020 shows that consuming specific foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet, such as olive oil, can reduce inflammatory biomarkers.

Studies cited in other research from 2020 also explored the link between inflammation and the Mediterranean diet. Newer studies proposed that the quality rather than the quantity of food people consumed had apparent benefits for a person’s metabolism and inflammation, even in older people.

Evidence from 2022 also suggests the Mediterranean diet has a low Dietary Inflammatory Index. This index is a scoring algorithm to classify diets based on their inflammatory potential and nutritional benefits.

Learn more about the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet consists of:

Research from 2020 suggests a Mediterranean diet only includes:

  • a moderate intake of alcohol, preferably red wine
  • low amounts of dairy products
  • low amounts of red and processed meats

Examples of anti-inflammatory foods also include:

Learn more about anti-inflammatory foods.

Research suggests people need to limit or avoid the following when eating a Mediterranean diet:

People can also speak with a nutritionist or dietitian to determine which foods to limit or avoid.

Examples of meals a person can make at home for each meal include the following:





  • Fresh fruit
  • A handful of nuts
  • Hummus and fresh vegetables
  • Grain crackers

A person may ask a dietitian to help draw up a meal plan that contains the right quantities of anti-inflammatory foods.

Research from 2020 refers to previous studies that have shown that the Mediterranean may have a positive effect on the following conditions:

An observational study from 2015 also suggests a connection between Mediterranean dietary patterns and improved gut microbiota. Compared with those who consumed meat, people consuming vegetarian and vegan diets had more enriched bacteria varieties, such as Prevotella and Lachnospira.

Additional research exploring the link between the Mediterranean diet and the gut microbiome is necessary to draw more definitive conclusions.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and limited meat and dairy consumption. Various research studies suggest this diet has anti-inflammatory potential. People who follow this eating pattern generally have lower incidences of inflammatory conditions.

This diet includes green leafy vegetables, fish, grains, nuts, and seeds. It also involves limiting or avoiding highly processed foods and refined sugars and carbohydrates.

Research has also shown that the Mediterranean diet can have a positive effect on certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular illnesses and sleep-related disorders, and is strongly associated with microbiome changes.