The "ingredients" to the longevity benefits associated with the traditional Mediterranean diet apear to be a high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, legumes, and olive oil, low consumption of meat, and moderate consumption of ethanol, but the relative importance of individual components has been unknown.
The authors from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston studied data from the Greek segment of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Included were 23,349 subjects 20 to 86 years of age when enrolled between 1994 and 1997, at which time they completed food frequency questionnaires for the year prior to enrollment. During a mean follow-up of 8.5 years, 1075 deaths occurred.
Subjects with higher Mediterranean diet scores had greater longevity. Specifically an increased adherence by two units was associated with a significant 14% lower overall mortality.
Their analyses, adjusted for sociodemographics and risk factors, showed a contribution of 23.5% for moderate ethanol consumption (for men, between 10 and 50 g/day; for women, between 5 and 25 g/day), followed by 17% for low consumption of meat and meat products. High consumption of vegetables contributed 16%, while fruits and nuts, high monounsaturated-to-saturated-lipid ratio, and high consumption of legumes each added about 10% to 11%.
On the other hand, the consumption of cereals, low amounts of dairy products, and high amounts of fish and seafood were largely inconsequential according to the investigators. Ethanol was consumed "mostly in the form of wine during meals.
As the results were graded, the closer you stick to such a diet, the better for your health! So even an improvement in your lifestyle helps. Get started today
Source: report in the June 24 issue of BMJ Online First