The annual U.S. News & World Report diet scores are in – and the Mediterranean Diet came out very near the top of the 38 diets ranked by 20 leading nutrition experts.

Mere fractions of a point separated the top five finishers:

  • #1 DASH Diet (score 4.2 out of 5)
  • #2 Mediterranean Diet (score 4.1 out of 5)
  • #3 MIND Diet (score 4.0 out of 5)

What warmed the cockles of our hearts more than anything was the near last-place finish of the Paleo Diet, one of last year’s big fad diets. Here’s how the bout between the Med Diet and the Paleo Diet went down, in the text:

Med Diet: “The panelists concluded that the Mediterranean diet meets the government’s nutrition recommendations and does not compromise safety. True to its Mediterranean roots, the diet encourages a daily glass or two of red wine. “A votre sante!“”

Paleo Diet: “Slapping the diet with multiple low scores, the experts couldn’t accept that entire food groups, like dairy and grains, are excluded, making it hard for dieters to get all the nutrients they need. It’s one of the few diets that experts actually considered somewhat unsafe and only somewhat complete nutritionally.”

Oldways is, of course, one of the world’s leading cheerleaders for traditional diets and honoring the “old ways” of eating, but the Paleo Diet takes the idea of ancestral foods way too far. Although we like its emphasis on whole foods, skipping all grains, dairy, legumes, potatoes and salt makes for a pretty restricted and unbalanced diet. Plus, paleolithic man ate lean wild game and greens (not bacon and beef from Safeway), ran around all day, and still only lived a few decades.

Wouldn’t you rather pattern your meals on people like those in the Mediterranean region, who savor all the food groups (in moderation!), enjoy both activity and siestas, and live to a ripe old age?

As you can see by the full text for the Mediterranean Diet in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, Oldways is not a neutral bystander in this process. As creators of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in 1993 (with the Harvard School of Public Health), we were asked by the magazine to submit information and sample meal-plans for the Med Diet, which the experts used in determining their scores. That said, other than delivering the facts, we had no say in the rankings and were delighted to learn the Mediterranean Diet had done so well. The facts, and the huge body of research supporting the Med Diet, spoke for themselves.

If you’d like more specifics on how to follow the Mediterranean Diet, check out the recipes and information on the Oldways website, or treat yourself to a copy of The Oldways 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan. Bon appétit!

Cynthia Harriman, Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies


Shirley Sims
I am 89 years young and I have "hypothyroidism". I have been advised that the Paleo diet would be good for me. I find that the Mediterranean diet would be easier for me to follow. Can you advise. Thank you.
Hi Shirley. It's not possible for us to give individual medical advice. That said, there's a huge amount of evidence (under the Health Studies tab on this site) supporting the overall health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Who has advised you to follow a Paleo diet, and was there a particular reason given? I would suggest meeting with a Registered Dietitian familiar with thyroid problems, to get dietary advice. We wish you the best.
Jamaal Richardson
I constantly have to come back to this post. At present it is one of the few oasis amongst a desert of paleoketomania. It is virtually impossible to look for sound nutritional content without being bombarded with paleoketovangelism.
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