The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables,
legumes, fruits, and cereals; a moderate to high intake of fish and a low
intake of saturated fats.
The Mediterranean diet also includes a high intake of unsaturated fats, particularly olive oil, a low intake of dairy products and meat and a modest intake of
alcohol, mostly as wine.
Current evidence suggests that such a diet may be beneficial to health.
Professor Trichopoulou and colleagues from Greece conducted a study involving over 74,000 healthy men and women, aged 60 or more, living in 9 European countries.
The researchers recorded information on diet, lifestyle, medical
history, smoking, physical activity levels, and other relevant factors.
The research team measured adherence to a modified Mediterranean diet using a
recognized scoring scale.
|A healthy man aged 60 adhering to the diet with a dietary score of 6-9, can live about 1 year longer|
|British Medical Journal|
The team noted that a higher dietary score was associated with a lower overall death rate.
A 2 point increase corresponded to an 8% reduction in mortality, while a
3 or 4 point increase was associated with a reduction of total mortality by 11% or 14% respectively.
The investigators give an example of a healthy man aged 60 who adheres well to the diet with a dietary score of 6-9, can expect to live about 1 year longer than a man
of the same age who does not adhere to the diet.
The association was strongest in Greece and Spain, probably because people
in these countries follow a genuinely Mediterranean diet, say the researchers.
Professor Trichopoulou concludes, “Adherence to a Mediterranean type diet, which relies on plant foods and unsaturated fats, is associated with a significantly longer life expectancy.”
“This diet may be particularly appropriate for elderly people, who represent a rapidly increasing group in Europe.”