New Research Backs Up Mediterranean Diet Benefits

The Mediterranean Diet has been consistently recommended on this site for its many health and longevity benefits. Two recent studies support its advantages, linking the diet to a healthier heart and even a longer life.

A study released this month in the British Medical Journal reports that consuming a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil, and legumes, may lead to a longer life. "…higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a statistically significant reduction in total mortality," wrote the researchers.

The Greek segment of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC), conducted by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens, followed 23,352 healthy Greek men and women aged 20 to 86 for an average of 8.5 years. Over the course of the study, 652 deaths were observed in people with the lowest Mediterranean diet scores, while 423 deaths were recorded in people with the highest Mediterranean diet scores.

Researchers found that nine components of the Mediterranean diet contributed to the benefits: moderate alcohol consumption, low meat and meat product consumption, high consumption of vegetables, fruit, legumes, olive oil, and nuts, and a high ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats. The benefits appear to be additive, with longevity increasing with higher scores on multiple components.

In another recent study review, the Mediterranean diet was found to be the only dietary pattern associated with a lower risk for heart disease.

For this review, researchers analyzed 146 other studies and 43 controlled trials published between 1950 and 2007. From this comprehensive evaluation, they found a relationship between consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, whole grains, fruits, fiber and dietary vitamins E and C and beta carotene, and reductions in the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, trans-fatty acids and foods with a high glycemic index (GI) were associated with negative effects on heart health.

"Among these dietary exposures, however, only a Mediterranean dietary pattern has been studied in randomized controlled trials and significantly associated with coronary heart disease."

These recent studies add to a large body of science supporting a Mediterranean-style diet. It seems that the diet followed by people living along the Mediterranean Sea results in some of the lowest rates of colon cancer, breast cancer, and coronary disease in the world, as well as fewer problems with inflammatory conditions and menopause.

The Mediterranean diet is very similar to the diet outlined in Genesis1:29 and 9:3. For more details on how to follow the diet's guidelines, see Dr. Cherry's Mediterranean Diet video.