The Mediterranean diet described in the new Spanish study I just reported, Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Diease with a Mediterannean Diet, is based on either 2 oz. of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) a day, or 1 oz. EVOO with 1 oz. mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts). How expensive is that if you wanted to cook more in the Mediterranean style? Can everyone afford it?
The Costco Standard
So I went to Costco in Waltham yesterday, and looked at their offerings. They do have EVOO (as well as plain olive oil). While you need to buy it in moderately large containers (most were 3 liters), the price worked out to about $5.50 a quart. Similarly, their 3 lb. bags of nuts typically were about $5-6 per pound, but they only had walnuts and almonds and pistachios, not hazelnuts that I could locate.
So for one ounce of extra virgin olive oil you pay a bit below 20 cents, and for one ounce of nuts about 40 cents, for a total of about 60 cents daily, or $4 per week, or about $200 annually to enable a very healthy diet and probably much less heart disease. Seems attainable.
The High Priced Alternatives
By contrast, as many of you know, the specialty store extra virgin olive oils typically come in 750 mL bottles like wine (well less than a quart), and frequently cost $30/bottle. That is about $40 per quart or $1.25 a day for the oil alone. Such expensive EVOO is not required to get the health benefits. And nuts in super markets are noticeably more expensive as well.
So the moral may be that the extra virgin olive oil and nuts for the Mediterranean diet are relatively inexpensive and available if you shop carefully.