Longer life linked to specific foods in Mediterranean diet

Jun 23, 2009

Some food groups in the Mediterranean diet are more important than others in promoting health and longer life according to new research published on bmj.com today.

Eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts, pulses and olive oil, and drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, while not consuming a lot of meat or excessive amounts of alcohol is linked to people living longer.

However, the study also claims, that following a Mediterranean diet high in fish, seafood and cereals and low in dairy products were not indicators of longevity.

While several studies have concluded that the Mediterranean diet improves chances of living longer, this is the first to investigate the importance of individual components of the diet.

Professor Dimitrios Trichopoulos at the Harvard School of Public Health explains that they have surveyed over 23,000 men and women who were participants in the Greek segment of the European Prospective Investigation into and (EPIC).

Participants were given dietary and lifestyle questionnaires when they enrolled onto the study and they were subsequently followed up for around 8.5 years with interviews. Their diets were rated from 0 to 10 based on the level of conformity to a traditional Mediterranean diet.

As part of the interview process, participants were also asked about their smoking status, levels of physical activity and whether they had ever been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes and .

The authors maintain that when high intake of vegetables, low intake of meat or moderate alcohol intake were excluded from the rating system, the benefits of following a were substantially reduced. They also note that there are clear benefits in combining several of the key components, for example high consumption of vegetables and olive oil.

Professor Trichopoulou, lead author of the study, concludes that the main reasons why the Mediterranean can lead to living longer are moderate consumption of (mostly in the form of wine during meals, as traditionally done in the Mediterranean countries), low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, and legumes.

Source: British Medical Journal (news : web)

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Nan2
4 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2009
You can't separate a social culture and food culture, each arise from available local products but also from social influences in difficult to quantify elements such as the time for meal preparation, shopping patterns and markets, available foods, time for eating, family and socializing.

Personally, I think in the quest to find the 'perfect' diet to thwart chronic disease, the element of stress is overlooked. In other less frenetic cultures, time to shop for and prepare whole foods, time to engage in family meals, time to eat and digest ones meal is greater and produces less stress to the individual over time. Therefore, there is less chronic disease, inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular disease, etc. as this is an extension of not only a more healthful diet but a more healthful culture of daily life which highly values that time in addition to higher quality diets and foods.

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