Mediterranean diet and wellbeing: evidence from a nationwide survey

Psychol Health. 2019 Mar;34(3):321-335. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2018.1525492. Epub 2018 Oct 15.


Objective: Although there is some evidence of the association between specific food groups, such as plant foods, and subjective wellbeing, this is the first study to assess the relationship between adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern and subjective wellbeing.

Design: Data were collected in 2014-2015, within the Edad con Salud project, a follow-up study of a multistage clustered survey on a representative sample of the population of Spain. The final sample comprised 2397 individuals with ages ranging from 21 to 101 years.

Main outcome measures: Experienced wellbeing (positive and negative affect) was measured using the Day Reconstruction Method, and evaluative wellbeing was assessed with the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale.

Results: A higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet showed a small but statistically significant inverse relationship with negative affect (β = -0.076, p=.001), and direct with evaluative wellbeing (β = 0.053, p=.015), whereas it was not related to positive affect. Several components of the Mediterranean diet were independently associated with wellbeing.

Conclusion: The results suggest that adherence to a dietary pattern such as the Mediterranean diet, and not only the isolated consumption of its components, is associated with a better subjective wellbeing.

Keywords: Day Reconstruction Method; Mediterranean diet; evaluative wellbeing; experienced wellbeing; subjective wellbeing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diet, Mediterranean / psychology*
  • Diet, Mediterranean / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult