The Mediterranean diet has been lauded for decades for the healthful benefits it provides. The whole-food-focused way of eating includes meat as a complement to other ingredients, rather than as a main component. This is no fad diet — it’s a lifestyle change to the way you eat that is easily sustainable, and can definitely help you lose weight and maintain overall improved health.

Cookbooks in this genre focus on the wide variety of foods found all around the Mediterranean, including countries in Europe, and select countries in northern parts of Africa. From Moroccan cuisine to Middle Eastern favorites, you’ll never run out of inspiration or flavor — and your heart, body, and soul will thank you.

Whether you’re trying to improve your overall health or have been ordered by a physician to stick to a healthier eating plan, a Mediterranean diet book can help you get back on track and streamline your food preparation.

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Eating healthy fats is an essential part of this diet. Stock your pantry with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil.
The Mediterranean diet is heavily plant-based with a focus on incorporating varied sources of healthy fats. The diet encourages cooking with lean meats like fish and poultry with legumes as another important source of protein.

This way of eating puts less emphasis on salt for seasoning and instead suggests using herbs, lemon juice, and spices to impart flavor. The diet is a holistic approach to wellness that includes regular exercise and social eating. The focus is not on weight loss, but on general health and wellness (although switching from a diet of processed, unhealthy foods to this is likely to result in significant weight loss).

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Unlike a host of other restrictive diets, those on the Mediterranean diet may drink alcohol. Drinking red wine in small quantities is allowed.
The Mediterranean diet has a host of health benefits. Here are a few notable health-related advantages linked to this diet and lifestyle.

Lowers the risk of heart disease.

Lowers LDL cholesterol levels.

Reduces the risk of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Lowers the risk of chronic illness.

Boosts immunity.

May aid in more restful sleep, leading to increased energy during the day.

Easy to follow/foods are readily available.

Look for cookbooks that align with your eating habits or lifestyle. Those that are vegetarian will benefit more from a book that includes fewer meat-based dishes.
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Before picking out a diet book for your reading pleasure, consider the following factors.

Types of Mediterranean diet books
Guides for beginners: If you’re entirely new to the Mediterranean diet, consider a book that includes an overview and explanation of the diet. The best “explainers”, or books that tell you everything you need to know about the diet, include references to scientific research and evidence to back up health claims. A diet overview book should also have helpful information to aid you in your new lifestyle change such as grocery lists and pantry organization tips, along with some popular, easy recipes.
Diet cookbooks: A diet cookbook takes the concepts of a particular diet and applies it to an array of diet-approved recipes. Some recipe books are more complete than others and feature sections with menu plans and ingredient lists. If you’re already well-versed on the basics of cooking, a straightforward book of recipes will do, whether you want one that is geared toward entrees, salads, or other specific meals and preparation methods.
Combination books: If you want the whole package, pick a book that includes both an overview of the diet and a collection of recipes to help get you started. Most Mediterranean diet books contain at least a handful of recipes, but check the table of contents to be sure.
Your lifestyle and goals
Do you want to try the Mediterranean diet for a short while, or are you attempting a lifestyle change? A short-term menu plan might fit your goals if you’re simply trying to reset your diet, otherwise, look for an in-depth overview that includes lots of resources and recipes for long-term success. If you just want to try some new recipes for the fun of it, pick a recipe book with ingredients that you can find easily at your local supermarket.

Dietary restrictions
If there are recipes in the book you select, check that they fit with your eating habits. If you’re vegetarian, for example, don’t choose a meat-heavy Mediterranean diet cookbook. If you can’t eat certain ingredients, look for books that include substitutions for allergies or intolerances. The Mediterranean diet is naturally quite adaptable for most people.

Are ingredients affordable and easy to find at the grocery store or will you need to hunt down exotic items at specialty food stores? If finding ingredients ends up being a chore, you’re less likely to utilize recipes and follow the diet. You should skim through the recipes to make sure you can find and afford the ingredients they require.

Cooking methods
Do you prepare your food on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a special appliance like an Instant Pot or air fryer? You can find books with recipes dedicated to your favorite cooking methods, and this can be very convenient and help maximize your cooking appliances.

“Restriction is a path to disordered eating and bingeing. Give into cravings occasionally. If you’re following a healthy lifestyle most of the time, a little bit of indulgence won’t hurt you.”
When selecting a Mediterranean diet book, here are some features to keep an eye out for.

Check out the table of contents to get a feel for the layout of the book. Does the structure make sense to you? If you plan to read the book cover to cover, verify that the information included interests you and seems intuitively organized. Are there recipes? If so, check that they are arranged in a way that fits your needs. Are they organized by main ingredient or meal-type? Which do you prefer?

Number of recipes
If you prefer to get creative in the kitchen and don’t like to follow recipes, you may not need a book with a whole slew of them. If you’re new to cooking and need a bit of guidance, opt for a diet book with plenty of recipes. Also, browse over the ingredients and cooking methods they call for to make sure you’re going to be able to follow them.

Are there any resources listed in the book such as additional recipes, kitchen help, or exercise guidelines? If you’re new to the diet, a few resources may be useful to have on hand.

A cookbook may contain great recipes, but without photos flipping through the pages is dull and uninteresting. New cooks may find it difficult to feel confident in putting dishes together without a visual reference. You can’t go wrong with a book that’s filled with beautiful photographs of mouth-watering food.

Look for Mediterranean diet books that stay open easily. This will allow you to quickly refer to the recipe without having to flip through the book to find the recipe again when cooking.
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Typically, a simple Mediterranean diet book that includes a quick overview and a handful of recipes will cost under $20. Expect to pay a bit more for books with high-resolution food photography and plenty of recipes. E-book editions are usually cheaper than hard copies, but unless you are viewing the book on a large tablet, you may find it easier to browse a physical cookbook.

Making changes to your diet is an overwhelming process. Trying new recipes and preparing new foods may be challenging for people not used to regular home cooked meals, especially those short on time. Here are some food shopping and meal prep tips to help you enjoy your new Mediterranean diet lifestyle.

If meal prepping for the whole week seems daunting, start by preparing your snacks in advance, so you always have something to grab and go when you’re hungry and in a hurry.

Stick to the outer grocery aisles (produce, meat department, etc.) when shopping for food. Fill your cart up with whole foods first and head to the inner aisles for missing ingredients and condiments at the end of your shopping trip. Better yet: try to do most of your shopping at a farmer’s market, or get it delivered from a community-supported agriculture (CSA) service.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors. If a recipe is calling for a particular spice, but you don’t enjoy that flavor profile, make a substitution to fit your taste buds.

Get your partner, friend, housemates, or family members on board with your new way of eating. Eating with others is a crucial component of the Mediterranean diet. Why not cook with others, too?

Make a plan before you hit the supermarket. Know roughly what you’ll be cooking throughout the week. Sticking to your list will help keep your spending and indulging under wraps.

Invest in quality cookware. You’ll be cooking more frequently, so you should own pots and pans that will hold up and won’t warp under pressure.

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It’s hard to cook a new recipe every day. Instead of immediately trying to overhaul your diet, try one new recipe a week as you gradually learn a whole array of new go-to meals.
Q. Is the Mediterranean diet the same as the Whole30 diet?
A. No, they are actually quite different. The Whole30 diet is not a long-term eating plan. Instead, the restrictive diet involves eliminating almost everything except lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats. The Whole30 diet also includes more meat and does not allow consumption of added sugar and alcohol. Whole30 is designed to achieve a quick body reset and speedy weight loss. The Mediterranean diet is much less limited and even encourages red wine consumption (in moderation!). It is much more of a lifestyle change than it is a diet, encouraging you to eat natural, whole foods.

If you enjoy the recipes in a particular book, look for the author’s website online. They may provide further recipes on their website or blog.
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Q. Will this diet help me to lose weight?
A. While you may lose weight following a Mediterranean diet, the overall benefit of this way of eating is not weight loss, but a path toward better health.

Q. Does following this type of eating plan mean I have to give up other foods I enjoy?
A. Not at all! The Mediterranean diet is not restrictive like other short-term eating plans. While there is an emphasis on whole foods, the diet encourages flexible eating. Enjoy treats in moderation without feeling the need to restrict yourself.