Posted on Jun 25, 2009, 12 p.m.
By gary clark
Certain aspects of the Mediterranean diet, including high consumption of vegetables and olive oil, low consumption of meat and moderate consumption of alcohol, are linked to longevity, a study has found.
While past research has shown that the "Mediterranean" diet improves chances for living longer, a group of researchers from Boston and Greece have, in the first study of its kind, investigated the importance of individual diet components and their impact on longevity. The researchers reviewed data collected from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, a study that included 23,349 healthy Greek men and women. They followed participants for 8.5 years, specifically looking at their diets and how closely they adhered to a traditional Mediterranean diet.
At the beginning of the study, participants completed questionnaires asking about their diet and lifestyle. They were also periodically interviewed throughout the study period. Their diets received a score of 0 to 10, depending on how closely they followed a traditional Mediterranean diet. In addition, participants were asked about their health, whether they smoked, their level of physical activity, and whether they had ever been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes or heart disease.
Of the 12,694 participants who had lower Mediterranean diet scores of 0-4, there were 652 deaths, yet there were only 423 deaths among the 10,655 participants who had higher scores of at least 5. Overall, the researchers, who included Professor Dimitrios Trichopoulos of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Professor Antonia Trichopoulou and Dr. Christina Bamia from the University of Athens Medical School, concluded that for both men and women, people who more closely followed the Mediterranean Diet had lower chances of dying from cancer or from all causes. They also found that specific aspects of the diet may be more strongly linked to longevity. These include high consumption of vegetables and olive oil, low consumption of meat and moderate consumption of alcohol. However, the study also claims, that following a Mediterranean diet high in fish, seafood and cereals and low in dairy products were not indicators of longevity.
"The dominant components of the Mediterranean diet score as a predictor of lower mortality are moderate consumption of ethanol, low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil and legumes," wrote the researchers in the June 23 issue of BMJ. The Mediterranean diet consists of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, moderate alcohol, a high ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats (ample olive oil) and lean meat (chicken), with dairy and red meat used more as a side dish.
News Release: Mediterranean diet may boost longevity www.webmd.com June 23, 2009
News Release: Longevity and Mediterranean diet link could be due to specific foods www.medicalnewstoday.com June 24, 2009