Mediterranean vs. Paleo: Weighing Each Diet’s Nutritional and Environmental Factors

The Gist:

  • The Mediterranean diet includes plant-based foods, olive oil, and certain seafood.
  • It’s typically seen in daily diets around the Mediterranean region, according to the Journal of Internal Medicine.
  • The paleo diet features foods found during the Paleolithic era, focusing on lean meats, veggies, fruits, and eggs, as noted in Nutrition Research Reviews.
  • Overall, research has found that a plant-based diet is the best for the environment.

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There are numerous dietary structures people use to achieve their nutritional goals, and it’s important to compare your options before starting anything new. If you’re curious about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet vs. the paleo diet, this guide will teach you the basics you need to make informed choices about your meals.

Before starting a new diet or way of eating, it’s important to consult with a doctor or nutrition professional. What do you need and which health conditions do you want to avoid? You’ll easily chart your progress if you keep your goals in mind and stick with your health care provider’s other health precautions to ensure your well-being.

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A plate of green vegetables, including cucumbers, spinach leaves, broccoli and avocado
Source: Nadine Primeau/Unsplash

What are the differences between the Mediterranean diet and the paleo diet?

Understand the difference between these two diets by reading on. They may seem similar, but they’re easy to tell apart when you learn more about them.

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The Mediterranean diet is full of plant-based foods, eggs, and dairy.

The Mediterranean diet allows for plant-based foods and some animal products, like eggs, certain dairy products, and certain fish products. Followers can also enjoy starch-based veggies like potatoes. People comparing the Mediterranean diet vs. paleo foods may start their research with the Mediterranean diet, because it’s more of a modern way of eating.

A plate full of fresh, colorful vegetables, including spinach, carrots, beets, cucumbers, radishes, cabbage and tomatoes
Source: Nadine Primeau/Unsplash

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The paleo diet was consumed by prehistoric humans.

The Paleolithic diet is a daily diet that only includes foods prehistoric humans could access during the Paleolithic era, as noted by researchers with Cureus. It’s crucial to remember that detail when comparing the Mediterranean diet vs. paleo diet.

People eating paleo eat lean meats, fish, fruits, veggies, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Processed foods, sugar, dairy, starchy vegetables and grains are off-limits because they developed or became accessible later in human history, as referenced by the same researchers with Cureus.

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Is the Mediterranean or paleo diet healthier?

Either the Mediterranean or paleo diet could be healthier for you, depending on your health goals. Here’s the research behind both options to compare the specific health benefits of the Mediterranean diet vs. the paleo diet.

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Research has found the Mediterranean diet to have a few notable health benefits.

Evidence in the Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health shows that the Mediterranean diet has numerous health benefits, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Lower stress marker levels
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The research found that the Mediterranean diet may be healthier for you if you’re more at risk of heart conditions, high blood pressure, or conditions associated with chronic high stress levels, because it typically involves a lot of whole plant foods.

That said, the more fish, eggs, and dairy you consume, the more you are at risk for diseases associated with high cholesterol. It’s important to discuss how this diet would work for you with a healthcare provider.

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A paleo diet is typically pretty harsh on the planet.

Researchers with Science of The Total Environment found that paleolithic-inspired food choices are typically high in cholesterol and fat, and could lead to a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes — which makes sense, considering that the diet is centered around meat and other animal products.

This, of course, also makes the paleo diet “expensive and not nutritionally adequate diet with a high carbon footprint,” as the researchers concluded.

A plant-based diet takes the best elements of the Mediterranean and paleo diets.

For those who care about personal health and environmental health, choosing how to eat can be complex. Overall, various research has found that a vegan diet is the best for the planet, on top of providing humans with all the nutrients they need.

Reflect on your health goals to see which nutritional path would best support your needs. Merging your nutritional and environmental interests could result in the most fulfilling diet.


Kerri Waldron

My name is Kerri Waldron and I am an avid healthy lifestyle participant who lives by proper nutrition and keeping active. One of the things I love best is to get to where I am going by walking every chance I get. If you want to feel great with renewed energy, you have to practice good nutrition and stay active.

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