Life Extension Update
Mediterranean Diet consumed in middle age associated with reduced risk of dying over 6.8 years of follow-up
Tuesday, July 24, 2012. In an article published online on July 18, 2012 in the Journal of Nutrition, Spanish researchers report a significantly reduced risk of dying over a 6.8 year average follow-up period in association with greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet by middle-aged men and women.
"To our knowledge, our study is the first to report a strong inverse association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and mortality among Mediterranean middle aged adults at low risk of mortality, after controlling for an extensive array of potential confounders," Almudena Sanchez-Villegas of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and colleagues announce.
Dr Sanchez-Villegas' team evaluated data from 15,535 Spanish university graduates who participated in the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Project, which began enrollment in 1999. Subjects in the current study had an average age of 38 and were free of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer upon enrollment. Dietary questionnaires completed at the beginning of the study and during follow-up were graded according to adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, cereals, legumes, olive oil, fish, fruit and nuts; moderate wine consumption, low to moderate intake of dairy products and decreased meat consumption.
One hundred twenty-five deaths occurred between 1999 and 2010. Compared with participants who had low adherence to the diet, moderate adherence was associated with a 42 percent lower adjusted risk of dying and high adherence with a 62 percent lower risk. When each dietary component was separately assessed, fruit and nuts emerged as significantly protective foods. The diet's protective benefit was strongest against death from cardiovascular disease and causes other than cancer. The authors suggest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well as prevention of endothelial damage as disease protective mechanisms associated with high Mediterranean diet adherence.
"Our results provide evidence supporting that closer adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet can considerably reduce mortality even among young and low-risk adults," they conclude. "This link provides further evidence on the importance of promoting the adherence to the Mediterranean diet among the general population."
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