Modelled on the traditional eating patterns of European populations, the Mediterranean diet is characterised by high amounts of vegetables, fruit, pulses, whole grains and olive oil, low amounts of meat and dairy, and moderate wine consumption.
The diet is consistently singled out for its health benefits, which are bolstered by a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition that found people aged 65-plus who followed the Mediterranean diet were 25 percent less likely to die from any cause over an eight-year period.
"We could confirm that a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet lowers overall mortality risk in a dose-response, progressive, way," said study co-author Licia Iacoviello, an epidemiologist from the Mediterranean Neurological Institute (NeuroMed), in a statement.
"In other words, the more you follow the Mediterranean diet, the greater the gain." The new study drew on the Moli-sani project, which collects health and lifestyle data from more than 20,000 adults in southern Italy, as well as several other studies into the Mediterranean diet.
The researchers say it's the first study to focus on the diet's benefits for those aged 65 and up. "We already knew that the Mediterranean diet is able to reduce the risk of mortality in the general population, but we did not know whether it would be the same specifically for elderly people." said the study's first author, NeuroMed epidemiologist Marialaura Bonaccio.
The Mediterranean diet has taken a bit of a hit this year, after significant flaws were found in the landmark 2013 study that endorsed it.
That's a major problem for nutrition researchers; but this new research suggests us everyday people are likely to benefit from adhering to the diet's guidelines.
The writer is a free lancer
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