OBJECTIVE:The objective of the present study was to determine the dietary patterns of a Mediterranean cohort and relate them to the observed patterns of beverage consumption. DESIGN:Prospective cohort study. Dietary habits were assessed with a semi-quantitative FFQ validated in Spain. A principal components factor analysis was used to identify dietary patterns and to classify subjects according to their adherence to these patterns. The association between adherence to each dietary pattern and beverage consumption was assessed cross-sectionally. In a longitudinal analysis (2-year follow-up), the relationship between adherence to the baseline dietary patterns and the likelihood of changing alcohol consumption was ascertained. SETTING:The SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) study is conducted in Spain. SUBJECTS:In total, 15 073 university graduates were included in the analyses. RESULTS:Two major dietary patterns were identified. We labelled them as 'Western dietary pattern' (WDP) and 'Mediterranean dietary pattern' (MDP). Higher adherence to the WDP was associated with higher consumption of carbonated beverages and whole-fat milk (P for trend <0.001), while higher adherence to the MDP was associated with higher consumption of decaffeinated coffee, orange juice, other natural juices, diet carbonated drinks, low-fat milk and bottled water (P for trend <0.001). Participants with higher adherence to the WDP were less likely to decrease their alcohol consumption during follow-up (OR between extreme quintiles = 0.68; 95 % CI 0.56, 0.84). By contrast, participants with higher adherence to the MDP were less likely to increase their alcohol consumption (OR = 0.66, 95 % CI 0.46, 0.95). CONCLUSION:In this cohort of university graduates, a healthier dietary pattern was associated with a healthier pattern of beverage consumption.