To test the viability of the Mediterranean diet as an affordable low-energy-density model for dietary change.
Foods characteristic of the Mediterranean diet were identified using previously published criteria. For these foods, energy density (kJ/100 g) and nutrient density in relation to both energy ($/MJ) and nutrient cost were examined.
Some nutrient-rich low-energy-density foods associated with the Mediterranean diet were expensive, however, others that also fit within the Mediterranean dietary pattern were not.
The Mediterranean diet provides a socially acceptable framework for the inclusion of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, vegetables and both fresh and dried fruit into a nutrient-rich everyday diet. The precise balance between good nutrition, affordability and acceptable social norms is an area that deserves further study. The new Mediterranean diet can be a valuable tool in helping to stem the global obesity epidemic.