A healthy new YEAR’S RESOLUTION is simple; TRY THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET – a diet pattern that offers variety as well as many health benefits and a great way to begin the year.
Highlights of the Mediterranean diet – source Life Extension, Dec. 2021 Michael Ozner, MD
There is no one Mediterranean diet. In thousands of studies, the Med diet has been reported to be one of the best lifestyle strategies for extending longevity and avoiding the common disorders of aging, including heart disease and cancer.
In 1990s, the first Mediterranean Pyramid was created by a non-profit group called the Oldways Preservation Trust, in cooperation with the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization. It was based on food patterns seen in the Mediterranean areas of the olive-growing countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, Spain and southern France in the 1960’s.
A clinical trial showed that those who adhered most closely to a traditional Med diet appeared less likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than those who at least had a better chance of healthy aging, defined as living to 70 years or older with no major physical or mental impairments. For diet details, search this blog as Mediterranean Diet.
Components of the Med Diet to show proven health benefits:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Omega-3 Fatty acids
Vegetables and fruits
Clinical trials and observational studies have found particularly strong evidence that the Med Diet protects the heart and lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular death.
However, this diet pattern is beginning to show that the diet can reduce the risk for other chronic diseases associated with aging.
A meta analysis of 50 studies including nearly 535 people found that following the Med Diet was associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms associated with heart disease that include:
- Decreased HDL (“good cholesterol”)
- Increased waist circumference
- Increased blood pressure
- High glucose levels
- Increased triglyceride levels
Diabetes type 2
Another study of subjects with a high cardiovascular risk showed that a Med Diet compared to a low fat diet reduced the risk of developing diabetes type 2 by 52% .
In a study lasting four years, in patients showing no signs of dementia at baseline, greater adherence to the Med Diet was associated with a significant reduction in risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
In a meta-analysis of 83 studies that included 2, 130, 753 subjects, the highest adherence to a Med diet was associated with the lowest rates of many cancers, including colon, breast, stomach, liver, and prostate and a lowest risk of cancer mortality. The diet’s benefits were attributed to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, i.e. a plant based diet.
Several studies have specifically shown that the Med Diet increases longevity.
One study analyzed the diets of 10,670 women in mid-life with a median age of 59 years. Greater adherence to the Med Diet was related to 46% greater odds of surviving to 70 years or older with no major impairments in physical function or mental health.
Another study of adults 65 and over also found that closer adherence to the Med Diet was associated with prolonged survival. Many components of the Med Diet including omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and polyphenols from fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation. Be sure and search Food, Facts, and Fads for diet and disease as well as the Mediterranean diet for more details about this powerful message.