Longer life linked to Mediterranean diet

December 12, 2007 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Longer life linked to Mediterranean diet

Eating a Mediterranean diet may lengthen your life, according to the first study looking at diet and mortality in the U.S. population.

The common pattern of the Mediterranean diet includes:

  • Daily enjoyment of fruits, vegetables, grains, bean, nuts and seeds.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil as is the predominant source of added fat.
  • Dairy products, fish and poultry eaten in moderation.
  • Eggs eaten zero to four times per week
  • Red meat that is seldom eaten.
  • Wine taken with meals, in low to moderate amounts.

In this study, the diet and death rates of 380,296 men and women aged 50 to 71 were examined as part of the National of Institute of Health's Diet and Health Study. The study participants were followed for five years.

Men with diets that most closely resembled the Mediterranean diet were 21 percent less likely to die during the study period as compared to the men who ate less healthfully. Women saw a similar decrease in their rate of death when their diets were more like the Mediterranean diet.  

Smokers who weren't overweight had the most to gain from following the Mediterranean diet - they nearly halved their risk of dying from cancer or heart disease when they ate the Mediterranean way.

Previous studies have linked the Mediterranean diet to longevity, better heart health and lower obesity rates.

Researchers believe that the high level of antioxidants that come from a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish and nuts may explain the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

In line with Mediterranean eating, Health Canada recommends trying meat alternatives like beans, lentils and tofu and having at least two servings (2.5 oz or 125 ml each) of fish each week. Canadians are also encouraged to choose lower fat milk products and make at least half of all grain products whole grain.

lesliebeck.com offers plenty of healthy recipes to help you include fish, legumes or olive oil in your everyday meals. Try Roasted Salmon with Lentils & Lemon Cilantro dressing!

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.