Interview of Nicki Heverling, the mind under Mediterranean Mark. A guide to help you choose healthy traditional foods, drinks and products.

the mediterranean mark logo

Nicki Heverling is the program manager of the Mediterranean Mark, a new educational program to guide consumers to healthy traditional Mediterranean food, drinks and products.

1.Please Nicki tell us a bit about yourself and Oldways. Why do you promote healthy eating?
Oldways is the widely respected non-profit “food issues think tank” credited with successfully translating the complex details of nutrition science into the familiar language of food. It is best known for developing consumer-friendly health-promotion tools, including the well-known Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

Oldways also creates and organizes a wide variety of other educational activities, conferences and materials. We do this to help consumers make wise choices about eating, drinking, lifestyle and the traditional pleasures of the table. These programs embrace sound principles of nutrition, sustainable farming, balance, and managing choices.

2.What led you to plan the “Med Mark program”?
A goal of Oldways has always been to match science and health promoting food – to help consumers find healthy products.
Through the years, our experience has shown that consumers respond to messages that simplify shopping and clear the clutter of competing and often confusing nutritional information.

Surveys consistently reveal that shoppers want to purchase healthy foods and drinks for themselves, families and friends, but are often discouraged by having to decide among the 45,000 different products in an average market (Food Marketing Institute, Facts and Figures).

We believe the Med Mark will help alleviate this grocery store confusion by helping consumers find legitimate Mediterranean foods and drinks when they go shopping.

5.What does a typical Mediterranean diet consist of in a week?
Looking at the Med Diet pyramid is the best way to answer this question. (Please see the bulleted list in question # 4)

6.What benefits does a Mediterranean diet offer?
An enormous body of scientific evidence supports the health-promoting effects of the traditional Mediterranean Diet. It is now referred to as the “Gold Standard” for healthy dietary patterns.

7.What is the best meal for the Mediterranean Diet?
There is no one best dish. As long as you choose a balanced meal filled with lean protein (seafood, beans, etc), whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy, you’re sure to get the health, flavors, and taste the Med Diet is famous for.

9.What is the easiest way to start the Mediterranean Diet?
Choosing natural, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, olive oil, nuts, avocadoes, yogurt, and cheese to make up the bulk of your diet is the easiest way to make your diet more like the Mediterranean Diet.

10.What is your favorite source where find information on Mediterranean Diet?
Of course, the Oldways ( and Med Mark ( websites are the two sites that I visit most often. Also, there are some great Mediterranean food blogs filled with traditional recipes like The Leftover Queen and Romancing the Table.

11.How much wine to drink to respect the Mediterranean diet principles?
Moderate amounts, usually with meals (please see the last bullet in #4)

12.How a vegetarian can follow the principles of this diet?
Vegetarian diets are a cornerstone of the Mediterranean Diet since only small amounts of meat are consumed in the traditional Med Diet.

Using foods found in the Med Diet pyramid, vegetarians can easily choose a variety of plant-based proteins, grains, and vegetables to ensure that they are getting a varied source of amino acids to form complete proteins.

In fact, Oldways developed a Vegetarian Diet Pyramid using foods from the Mediterranean Diet pyramid.