I Tried the Green Mediterranean Diet for 30 Days

I lost 6 pounds, slept better, and had more energy.

Growing up, I was the kid who didn’t need to be coerced into eating vegetables. Artichokes? Yum! Spinach? Yes, please. So, when I heard about the green Mediterranean diet, I was excited to try this new plant-based spin on the traditional Mediterranean diet (MED).

While both the original MED and the updated green version emphasize plant-based foods and healthy fats, the green version provides added health benefits by eliminating all red and processed meats. In addition, the green MED adds in green tea, walnuts, and duckweed (a high-protein aquatic plant).

Learn all about the green Mediterranean diet and my experience following it for one month. Do I recommend it? A resounding yes!

I Tried the Green Mediterranean Diet for 30 Days

When I started the green Mediterranean diet, my goals were:

  • Increase my vegetable intake and boost my energy levels. While I enjoy veggies, I wasn’t sure I met the four to five servings recommended each day by the American Heart Association. Fortunately, a new study found that eating one to two servings of vegetables each day (about half a cup), helps protect against stroke, heart disease, and esophageal cancer. That seemed more doable.
  • Raise my good HDL cholesterol and reduce my triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar (although all were within range, the numbers had risen over the years).
  • Make healthier eating choices and learn some new veggie recipes to add to my family’s weekly dinner rotation.
  • View the green MED as more of a lifestyle recommendation than a true diet. While I wanted to lose some weight, I was more concerned with being healthy and feeling good.

Week 1

I started the week by stocking up on fruits and veggies at my local farmers market. I was unsuccessful in finding any local sources of duckweed, so I opted for flaxseed as a substitute. I thought it would be easier to plan out meals for the first week to stay on track and I found a lot of recipes online just by googling “green Mediterranean diet.” There are also several green MED cookbooks you can buy, or in my case, find as e-books at my library.

Week 2

I found I was sleeping better at night and had more energy during the day. I also enjoyed finding new recipes and making home-cooked meals all week. In addition to hitting the farmers’ market, I found some great items at Trader Joe’s. Shopping with a specific list and meal plan also proved cost-effective.

Week 3

My family ate out at a restaurant once this week. I enjoyed pasta pomodoro and caved when the waiter delivered warm focaccia bread to our table. While I like aspects of the green MED, I view it as a lifestyle plan rather than a diet. I’m eating healthier, and I've noticed changes in how my clothes fit, my mood, and my energy level.

Week 4

I'd lost approximately six pounds at the end of the 30 days, and I also noticed my pants appeared to be looser around my waist. I’m going in for routine blood tests next month and I anticipate seeing a decrease in my blood sugar and cholesterol levels. I intend to continue making many of the veggie recipes I found this month, but will probably continue to use butter in some recipes and enjoy the occasional family pizza night at our favorite restaurant.

Favorite Recipes on the Green Mediterranean Diet

My goal for the green MED diet was to find healthy, delicious recipes that could be prepared quickly.

Here are some of my favorites.

Breakfast Recipes

Peanut Butter and Chia Berry Jam English Muffin?I’m not a morning person, so I wanted breakfast options that could be made quickly and offer a boost of energy. Research shows a high-protein breakfast helps regulate your appetite. This recipe uses four ingredients, can be made in 10 minutes, and boasts 10 grams (g) of protein.

Soothing Green Tea Latte?I typically start my morning by making a coffee drink at home, but I decided to give green tea a try. While you can drink it plain, I discovered it’s possible to make a delicious latte using bagged green tea, almond milk, raw honey, ground ginger, and cinnamon. Since this recipe uses tea bags instead of a premade green tea mix that’s filled with sugar and other additives, you get a tasty, healthy latte.

Lunch Recipe

Mediterranean Roll-Ups?Whether you’re eating at home or need something to pack for the office, this lunch entrée offers a different take on a traditional sandwich. It features six ingredients on a lavash or flour tortilla, and provides a quick, delicious, high-fiber lunch option.

Dinner Recipes

Baked Mediterranean White Fish?This recipe from The Foodie Physician blog was created by an emergency room doctor who is also a trained chef. It’s an easy, healthy meal for busy weeknights.

Plant-Based Veggie Rigatoni Bake?My family really enjoys pasta dishes, so I was excited to find this recipe on Jackie Newgent’s website. It’s delicious, easy-to-prepare comfort food.

Dessert Recipe

Easy Chocolate Avocado Pudding?Confession time: I really like chocolate and have been pushing for years to make it the fifth basic food group. If you show me a diet plan that doesn’t allow chocolate, I’ll tell you I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. Fortunately, there are ways to incorporate chocolate into the green MED diet, and this delicious pudding is one example. Avocados give it a creamy texture. Bonus: It’s high in fiber, low in sugar, and can be made in less than 10 minutes.

It’s worth noting that research shows some cocoa powders and chocolates contain cadmium and lead from environmental origins, with amounts varying by product type and geographic origin. One?study reported higher concentrations of cadmium in products originating in Latin America.

What Is the Green Mediterranean Diet?

The original Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle plan based on the cuisine of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Medical studies have shown these countries, including Greece and Italy, have a high life expectancy and a lower incidence of heart disease and cancer. The MED was ranked No. 1 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Diets for 2023 — the sixth consecutive year the diet has ranked in the top.

The green Mediterranean diet includes plenty of produce, healthy fats, green tea, walnuts, and duckweed, and eliminates all red and processed meats.

“The Mediterranean diet is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds called polyphenols, which are one of the components thought to contribute significantly to the health benefits,” says Rachel Dyckman, RDN, a registered dietitian-nutritionist and the owner of Rachel Dyckman Nutrition in New York City. “The green Mediterranean diet was designed to be even higher in polyphenols, and research suggests it may be more effective at reducing visceral fat and improving cardio-metabolic health.”

The green MED diet not only offers health benefits, but also can help to reduce your carbon footprint. One study found that animal-based foods account for about 57 percent of total global greenhouse emissions, while plant-based foods account for 29 percent. Eliminating meat from your diet can have a profound impact on your overall health, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

What Are the Health Benefits of the Green Mediterranean Diet?

In study after study, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and metabolic syndrome. Research shows the green MED boasts all these health benefits and more. One recent study found the green MED reduced stubborn belly fat by twice as much as the original Mediterranean diet.

“Whenever you’re able to include more wholesome plant foods in your meal plan while forgoing red and processed meats, the more potential health benefits can result, especially related to cardiometabolic health,” says Jackie Newgent, RDN, a chef and culinary nutritionist in New York City, and the author of The Plant-Based Diabetes Cookbook.

One study found that after six months on either the original MED or the green MED, patients saw more heart health and weight loss benefits than those who were simply told by their doctor to eat healthy or lose weight. The green MED demonstrated significant benefits related to a decrease in blood pressure, bad cholesterol, inflammation, and blood sugar.

Another study showed the green MED reduced fat in the liver, a condition called metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD), formerly known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

What You Can Eat on the Green Mediterranean Diet

  • Fruits including apples, apricots, cherries, oranges, and more
  • Vegetables such as artichokes, beets, lettuce, onions, greens, spinach, and more
  • Nuts and seeds, including almonds, pistachios, and sesame seeds
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil
  • Legumes including lentils, beans, chickpeas, and peas
  • Whole grains including quinoa, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread
  • Walnuts (1 oz each day)
  • Green tea (3–4 cups each day)
  • Condiments and spices including basil, rosemary, sage, parsley, and pepper
  • Duckweed or a substitute such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds that contain omega-3 fatty acids
  • Dairy such as yogurt, milk, and cheese, along with eggs and limited portions of fish and poultry consumed in moderate amounts

How to Ensure You Get the Right Nutrients

When eating a primarily vegetarian diet, it’s important to ensure you get the right vitamins and nutrients, Newgent says.

“Whenever entire food groups are eliminated, vitamin and mineral supplementation needs to be considered,” Newgent says. “If all animal-based foods are excluded, vitamin B12, iron, and calcium are three potential nutrients to add to a daily nutrition repertoire.”

On the other hand, supplementation might not be necessary if you’re regularly eating plant foods that contain significant amounts of these nutrients. For example, Newgent says duckweed is a good source of vitamin B12 and iron.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Green Mediterranean Diet

Is this type of diet sustainable long-term?
“The green Mediterranean diet can be sustainable long-term when it’s individualized to meet your specific lifestyle, budget, and diet-related needs,” Newgent says.
How can you make this diet work if only one person in the family eats vegetarian?
“While it’s best to personalize recommendations based on a specific family’s needs, if one person is following the green Mediterranean diet, I generally advise planning all meals around this eating style,” Newgent says. “To accommodate the meat eaters in the family, offer a very simple animal-based food on the side as needed, like pan-grilled chicken breast strips, heat-n-eat turkey chili, or a scoop of deli tuna salad.”
What foods and beverages aren’t allowed on the green MED?
Red meats, processed foods, high-fat dairy products, added sugars, refined grains, and alcohol are off-limits — with the exception of red wine, which can be consumed in moderation.
What challenges are associated with following the green MED?

“Due to cost, availability, or taste, it can be a challenge for many people to get 100 g of a daily duckweed shake,” Newgent says. “I suggest having a simple, green go-to alternative available that you enjoy, like a green veggie burger patty, green veggie hummus, beans ’n’ greens soup, or a DIY green superfood smoothie.”

Dyckman agrees that the green MED may not be the best choice for everyone.

“It’s a highly regimented plan and doesn’t allow for the same flexibility as the traditional Mediterranean diet,” she says. “Since it involves consuming certain foods and beverages daily, such as green tea, duckweed, and walnuts, those who do well with a structured plan may be able to stick to it, but for many, the diet can simply be unrealistic for the long-term.”

In addition, Dyckman says the green MED may not be appropriate for those with a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder, as it involves restrictions that may be triggering for these individuals.

There’s no one way to follow a green MED meal plan. By following the basic guidelines, you can improve your diet and health one fruit and vegetable at a time.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.


  • Dontas A et al. Mediterranean Diet and Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease in the Elderly. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2007.
  • Xu X et al. Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Animal-based Foods Are Twice Those of Plant-based Foods. Nature Food. September 13, 2021.
  • Rosato V et al. Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. European Journal of Nutrition. November 25, 2017.
  • Abt E et al. Cadmium and Lead in Cocoa Powder and Chocolate Products in the U.S. Market. Food Additives & Contaminants. February 1, 2018.
  • Finicelli M et al. The Mediterranean Diet: An Update of the Clinical Trials. Nutrients. July 19, 2022.
  • Itsiopoulos C et al. The Anti-inflammatory Effects of a Mediterranean Diet: A Review. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. November 1, 2022.
  • Zelicha H et al. The Effect of High-Polyphenol Mediterranean Diet on Visceral Adiposity: The DIRECT PLUS Randomized Controlled Trial. BMC Medicine. September 30, 2022.
  • Yaskolka A et al. Effect of Green Mediterranean Diet on Intrahepatic Fat: The DIRECT PLUS Randomised Controlled Trial. Gut. 2021.
  • University of Missouri-Columbia. Protein-rich Breakfast Helps Curb Appetite Throughout the Morning. ScienceDaily. November 14, 2013.
  • Domingues J et al. Mediterranean Diet in the Management and Prevention of Obesity. Experimental Gerontology. April 2023.
Show Less