Women can live long and prosper by following the Mediterranean diet, according to a new study reported by U.S. News & World Report on November 4.
"Women with healthier dietary patterns at midlife were 40 percent more likely to survive to age 70 or over," said lead researcher Cecilia Samieri, a postdoctoral fellow who conducted the study while at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
The women who adhered to Mediterranean diet guidelines most consistently also were more apt to be qualified as "healthy agers," meaning that they had no chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. They also did not experience cognitive concerns such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
"The Mediterranean diet is characterized by greater intake of [fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains] and fish; lower intake of red and processed meats; moderate intake of alcohol; higher amounts of [monounsaturated fats, mostly provided by olive oil from Mediterranean countries]; and lower amounts of [saturated fats]," Samieri said. Saturated fats are found in baked goods, fatty meats and a wide range of processed foods.
Yet to be determined: If men can also benefit from this food plan. However, "it seems reasonable to believe that the benefit would be similar," said Samieri.
However, more research is needed to confirm link, said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "Cause and effect cannot be conclusively linked," said Diekman, former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But she did emphasize that a healthy diet results in a healthy life.
"We know that healthier behaviors in women, and men, become a pattern, and thus a lifestyle that promotes health," she said.
What many people don't know: How the Mediterranean diet originated. Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the European Office of the World Health Organization introduced the classic Mediterranean diet in 1993 at a conference in Cambridge, MA. The photo shown with the video was introduced at that time.
You can learn more about the Mediterranean diet by reading: