By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
January 30, 2017
- Does anybody REALLY know how to eat like a Mediterranean?
- 14 ways to find out if you’re adhering to a Mediterranean style diet
- What your score means
These days the Mediterranean way of eating is a hot topic. Everybody wants to do it. However, I find that very few people actually know how to do it properly.
Sure. You might be eating more fish and plant-based foods. Perhaps you use olive oil whenever you can and snack on nuts between meals.
This is a good start. But enjoying a Mediterranean style diet isn’t only about adding these kinds of foods to your meals. It also involves limiting your intake of others.
The fact is, the more closely you adhere to a Mediterranean diet the better off you will be.
This style of eating can shrink your chances of a heart attack, stroke and death from cardiovascular problems by up to 30%. It also protects against certain cancers, can help you lose weight and reduce metabolic disorders that add to your risk of other health issues.
Plus, we’re now learning that eating like a Mediterranean can help prevent the loss of brain volume. Brain shrinkage causes you to lose brain cells, affects memory and is often seen in Alzheimer’s patients.
With all of this in mind, enjoying a Mediterranean way of eating is one of the best things you can do for your health. But how can you find out if you’re “doing it right”?
You can use the same test that scientists and researchers use when conducting studies on the topic!
14 Ways to find out if you’re eating like a Mediterranean
Do you know how much olive oil you should get in your diet each day? How many servings of fish, fruits, vegetables and red meat are ideal?
If not, there’s a way to find out. And it doesn’t involve staring at pictures of the USDA food plate trying to figure out what those images really mean. Instead, you can take this simple test to learn if you’re eating the right foods – and the right quantities – to boost your health.
Get out a piece of paper and number it from 1 to 14. Then, answer the questions below, placing a “yes” or “no” answer next each corresponding number.
- Do you use olive oil as main culinary fat?
- Do you eat 4 teaspoons of olive oil or more in a given day (including oil used for frying, salads, out-of-house meals, etc.)?
- Are you eating two or more servings of cooked – or one or more portions of raw – vegetables per day? (1 serving: 200g. Consider side dishes as half a serving.)
- Do you consume three or more units of fruit per day?
- Is your consumption of red meat, hamburger, or meat products (ham, sausage, etc.) below one serving a day? (1 serving: 100–150g)
- Do you eat less than one serving of butter, margarine, or cream per day? (1 serving: 12g)
- Do you limit consumption of sweet or carbonated beverages to less than one a day?
- Do you drink a small glass of wine every day?
- Is your intake of legumes at three or more servings per week? (1 serving: 150g)
- Are you eating three or more servings of wild caught fish or shellfish per week? (1 serving 100–150g of fish or 200g of shellfish)
- Do you consume commercial sweets or pastries such as cakes, cookies, biscuits, or custard less than three times a week?
- Are you eating three or more servings of nuts a week? (1 serving: 30g)
- Do you prefer eating chicken, turkey or rabbit meat instead of veal, pork, hamburger or sausage?
- Do you consume vegetables or other dishes seasoned with a sauce made with tomatoes, onion (or leeks), garlic and olive oil two or more times weekly?
Now, add up the number of “yes” answers you’ve written down. This is your score.
What Your Score Means
If your score is 11 points or higher, congratulations! You have a high adherence to the Mediterranean style of eating.
This means you have a lower risk of premature death, including death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. You also have a reduced chance of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Plus, you have added protection against today’s most chronic degenerative diseases.
If your score is lower than 11 points, your level of adherence to the diet is considered low. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn things around.
Every 2-point increase in your adherence score is associated with a significant reduction in premature death from all of the causes I just mentioned. Plus, you’ll be all the healthier (and thinner!) for it.
So make note of the serving sizes – and the number servings per day – included in the test above. Then, try to stick with them.
Keep in mind that it’s best to opt for cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, organic fruits and veggies and wild-caught fish. When you do occasionally enjoy meat or poultry, always choose grass-fed and pasture-raised.
Estruch R, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 4;368(14):1279-90.
Toledo E, et al. Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Nov;175(11):1752-60.
Babio N, et al. Mediterranean diets and metabolic syndrome status in the PREDIMED randomized trial. CMAJ, October 2014.
Mediterranean Diet May Have Lasting Effects on Brain Health. Press Release. American Academy of Neurology. Jan 2017.
Martínez-González MA, et al. A 14-Item Mediterranean Diet Assessment Tool and Obesity Indexes among High-Risk Subjects: The PREDIMED Trial. PLoS One. 2012; 7(8): e43134.
Sofi F, et al. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008 Sep 11;337:a1344.
Sofi F, et al. Accruing evidence on benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet on health: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1189-96.