Mediterranean Diet Consumed In Middle Aged Associated Reduced Risk Of Dying

Mediterranean Diet consumed in middle age associated with reduced risk of dying over 6.8 years of follow-up

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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Health nuts

What's Hot

In a recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, a team from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center reports a beneficial effect for tree nuts on reducing a cluster of risk factors collectively known as metabolic syndrome, which is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Carol O'Neil, PhD, MPH, RD and her associates evaluated data from 13,292 men and women aged 19 and older upon enrollment in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). Twenty-four hour recall data was analyzed for the intake of almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.

Nut consumers were defined as those who consumed at least ¼ ounce tree nuts per day. These participants had a decreased prevalence of metabolic syndrome risk factors that included abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in comparison with those who did not consume nuts, and a 5 percent lower overall incidence of metabolic syndrome, defined as having three or more risk factors. Additionally, nut consumers had a lower level of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, compared to nonconsumers.

"One of the more interesting findings was the fact that tree nut consumers had lower body weight, as well as lower body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference compared to nonconsumers," Dr O'Neil stated. "The mean weight, BMI, and waist circumference were 4.19 pounds, 0.9kg/m2 and 0.83 inches lower in consumers than nonconsumers, respectively."

Earlier research conducted by Dr O'Neil's team found that nut consumption in the United States is relatively low, and that the quality of the diet improves when nuts are added. "Tree nuts should be an integral part of a healthy diet and encouraged by health professionals—especially registered dietitians," she recommended.

Life Extension Blog

Life Extension Blog

Dr. Michael Smith, M.D.

Natural extracts to control sugar absorption, by Michael A. Smith, MD

We've said it before and we'll say it again: The American diet's biggest culprit is refined sugar...and avoiding it is nearly impossible in this country. Refined sugar, in a variety of forms, is all over our food supply. That's why it's important to take steps to ensure that you block most of the sugar from getting into your body in the first place.

And this is where green tea and grape seeds can help out. The nutritional compounds found in both, according to a new study, can actually inhibit the enzymes that break down simple carbohydrates. The result is fewer sugary carbs entering into your body.

Let's take a look at the study.

Researchers found that extracts from grape seeds and teas (both white and green) successfully dampened a sugary meal's impact on blood sugar levels. They did this by inhibiting the enzymes that degrade the simple carbs into their building blocks called monosaccharides.

With fewer monosaccharides available for absorption, there is less of an effect on blood sugar spikes after eating. This is very important because experts agree that a dramatic rise in blood sugar leads to a parallel rise in insulin. The end result is insulin resistance and possibly type 2 diabetes.

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