Chances are that you’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet. It’s touted as the healthiest diet in the world. So, could the Mediterranean diet truly help you live a longer life? According to a recent study, the answer appears to be yes, especially if you’re 65 and older.
The Mediterranean Diet is the Longevity Diet
For the study, Professor Cristina Andrés-Lacueva and her team from the University of Barcelona analyzed data from 642 people over the age of 65. The data was taken from the InCHIANTI project conducted in the Tuscany region of Italy.
Over a period of 20 years, the researchers collected blood and urine samples from participants. They were also monitoring their dietary habits by having them fill out food questionnaires.
Biomarkers for longevity
For the study, the researchers focused on specific dietary biomarkers:
- polyphenols and resveratrol metabolites (from grape consumption)
- plasma carotenoids
- Vitamin B12
- fatty acids
- the proportion of monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids.
According to Andrés-Lacueva, these biomarkers were based on food groups that are part of the Mediterranean diet. As such, the researchers used them to assess their association with mortality.
What did the study find?
“An adherence to the Mediterranean diet assessed by a panel of dietary biomarkers is inversely associated with the long-term mortality in older adults, which supports the use of these biomarkers in monitoring evaluations to study the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet,” – Tomás Meroño, PhD, study lead author.
The findings, which were published in BCM Medicine, found that while 425 participants died (139 from heart disease and 89 from cancer-related causes) during the 20-year period, participants who stuck more to the Mediterranean diet were likely to live longer.
A blue zone diet
Blue Zones are five areas around the globe virtually free of the disease and with numerous healthy residents that were living to age 100 and beyond. In studying the dietary habits of Blue Zones, it soon became apparent that their secret to longevity could be found in their eating habits.
In fact, the basis of their dietary habits is similar to that of the Mediterranean diet. There is a high emphasis on plant-based eating that incorporates fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. They also encourage a reduced intake of red meat, alcohol, and processed foods.
Eating the Mediterranean way
The Mediterranean way of eating is more of a lifestyle and less of a diet. So if you want to adopt Mediterranean eating habits, then it’s important that you completely embrace the process.
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is clearly good for you, so why not give it a try?
Want to know more?
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil really is all you need to stay healthy. In fact, a new study has revealed that olive oil could be the key to you living a long and healthy life.
Hidalgo-Liberona, N., Meroño, T., Zamora-Ros, R. et al. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet assessed by a novel dietary biomarker score and mortality in older adults: the InCHIANTI cohort study. BMC Med 19, 280 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-021-02154-7