The Atlantic diet has emerged as a promising counterpart to the Mediterranean diet, with the key difference lying in its fewer restrictions which is perfect for those seeking a more flexible approach to healthy eating.

The Atlantic diet, inspired by northwestern Spain and Portugal’s traditional eating habits, mirrors the Mediterranean diet with its emphasis on local, fresh, and minimally processed seasonal foods like vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, nuts, beans, and olive oil. 

However, it sets itself apart from the Mediterranean diet by allowing moderate amounts of meat, pork, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, with a focus on reducing processed food intake.

UK Registered Nutritionist and Chef, Lily Keeling from recipe box delivery service Green Chef comments:

“Unlike many diets that focus on restriction, the Atlantic Diet’s emphasis is on balance. Incorporating a rich variety of nutrient-dense foods like seafood, lean meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and olive oil to create a satisfying and varied diet.”

She adds, “Its effectiveness lies in promoting a sustainable lifestyle rather than temporary fixes by creating a more wholesome relationship with food that prioritises health and enjoyment. This approach isn’t about perfection; it’s about making consistent, mindful choices. By minimising processed foods while still allowing for the occasional treat without derailing progress.”

Include Seafood Regularly

Make seafood a regular part of your diet, aiming for at least three to four servings per week. Choose fish like salmon,, trout, herring and mackerel which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and provide numerous health benefits.

Traditional dishes from northwestern Spain and northern Portugal often feature seafood as a central ingredient, with popular dishes like Portuguese grilled sardines, Basque-style codfish stew, and Galician-style seafood paella being not only delicious but also packed with nutrients.

Moderate Your Intake of Starchy Vegetables

While starchy vegetables like potatoes are included in the Atlantic diet, aim to consume them in moderation. Instead of relying solely on potatoes, incorporate a variety of vegetables into your meals to ensure a diverse nutrient intake.

While starchy vegetables like potatoes are included in the Atlantic diet, aim to consume them in moderation, ideally limiting their intake to two or less servings per week.  Instead of relying solely on potatoes, incorporate a variety of non-starchy vegetables into your meals, for example, leafy greens (spinach, kale), vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, and courgettes over potatoes. 

Opt for Fresh, Seasonal Produce

Incorporate a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables into your meals. Choose locally grown options when possible, as they are often fresher and more flavourful.

For instance, in spring, enjoy strawberries, asparagus, and spinach; in summer, indulge in tomatoes, sweetcorn, and berries; autumn offers squash, apples, and kale; while winter provides Brussels sprouts, carrots, and citrus fruits. Use the seasons to your advantage.

Swap Butter for Olive Oil

Use olive oil as a healthier alternative to butter or margarine when cooking or dressing salads. Olive oil is a key component of the Atlantic diet, providing heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.

Olive oil is a staple in cooking and is often used in a similar manner to the Mediterranean diet. However, rather than being the primary cooking fat, it is prized for its flavour and aroma, added at the end to enhance the taste of grilled seafood, roasted vegetables, or crusty bread.

Limit Added Sugars and Processed Foods

Minimise your consumption of added sugars, sugary drinks, and processed foods. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with natural sources of sweetness like fruits or small portions of dark chocolate.

One of the biggest differences in the Atlantic diet is its flexibility—it allows occasional treats without derailing progress, promoting sustainable lifestyle changes over strict restriction. It’s important to embrace a compassionate mindset as the key is not perfection but progress.

For more recipe inspiration that makes eating well easier than ever, visit Green Chef’s weekly menu

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