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Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of death among American women

Researchers have uncovered compelling evidence that the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of death among American women
Researchers have uncovered compelling evidence that the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of death among American women. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital have uncovered compelling evidence that the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of death among American women.


In a study involving over 25,000 initially healthy women, those who adhered more closely to the Mediterranean diet experienced a 23% lower risk of all-cause mortality over a span of 25 years. These findings, published in JAMA, also highlight the diet's benefits in reducing cancer and cardiovascular mortality.


 
 

The Mediterranean Diet: A Nutritional Powerhouse


The Mediterranean diet emphasizes a variety of plant-based foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Olive oil, particularly extra virgin, serves as the primary fat source. The diet also includes moderate consumption of fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, and alcohol, while limiting meats, sweets, and processed foods.


The study aimed to understand why the Mediterranean diet is so beneficial. The researchers assessed a panel of around 40 biomarkers representing various biological pathways and clinical risk factors. They found that changes in biomarkers related to metabolism, inflammation, insulin resistance, and triglyceride-rich lipoproteins were significant contributors to the reduced mortality risk.


“For women who want to live longer, our study says watch your diet! The good news is that following a Mediterranean dietary pattern could result in about one quarter reduction in risk of death over more than 25 years with benefits for both cancer and cardiovascular mortality, the top causes of death in women (and men) in the US and globally,” said senior author Dr. Samia Mora, a cardiologist and director of the Center for Lipid Metabolomics at Brigham and Women's Hospital.


 
 

Metabolic and Inflammatory Biomarkers: Key Players


The study's findings suggest that even modest changes in established risk factors for metabolic diseases can yield substantial long-term benefits. Lead author Dr. Shafqat Ahmad, an associate professor of Epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden, emphasized the significance of these findings.


“Our research provides significant public health insight: even modest changes in established risk factors for metabolic diseases—particularly those linked to small molecule metabolites, inflammation, triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, obesity, and insulin resistance—can yield substantial long-term benefits from following a Mediterranean diet. This finding underscores the potential of encouraging healthier dietary habits to reduce the overall risk of mortality,” said Dr. Ahmad.


 

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While the study provides valuable insights, it also has some limitations. The participants were primarily middle-aged and older, well-educated, non-Hispanic white female health professionals. Additionally, the study relied on self-reported data, including food frequency questionnaires and measures of height, weight, and blood pressure.


However, the study's large scale and long follow-up period are notable strengths, providing robust data over 25 years. The findings add to the growing body of evidence supporting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.


 
 

Promoting Healthier Dietary Habits


The researchers advocate for public health policies that promote the Mediterranean diet's healthful attributes and discourage unhealthy adaptations as the diet gains popularity in various cultures.



“The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are recognized by medical professionals, and our study offers insights into why the diet may be so beneficial. Public health policies should promote the healthful dietary attributes of the Mediterranean diet and should discourage unhealthy adaptations,” said Dr. Mora.


 
 

The Mediterranean diet's role in reducing mortality risk is supported by significant biological evidence. By understanding the mechanisms behind its benefits, we can better appreciate and adopt this dietary pattern for improved long-term health.






For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.


 

Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


 
 

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