The Best Part of the Mediterrannean Diet
For years, we've been hearing that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest way to eat. People who to consume diets that are rich in whole grains, olive oil, nuts, fruits and vegetables, fish, cheese and moderate amounts of wine seem to live longer, healthier lives. But is there any particular part of the diet that is really key? The first study to try to dissect the Mediterranean diet suggests that there is.
Dimitrios Trichopoulos of the Harvard School of Public Health and his colleagues analyzed data collected from more than 23,000 men and women who participated in the Greek part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.
For the study, participants answered detailed questionnaires about their diets and lifestyles and were followed for more than eight years. Interviewers asked how much physical activity they got, whether they smoked and whether they were diagnosed with cancer, diabetes and heart disease, and who died.
In a paper published online this week by a British medical journal known as BMJ, the researchers reported that those improved their adherence to a Mediterranean diet were about 14 percent less likely to die during the study period.
But the main benefits in terms of a reduced mortality appeared to be from consuming moderate amounts of alcohol, little meat, and lots of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil and legumes. Eating a lot of cereal and fish and other seafood did not appear to play a significant role, the researchers found.
Specifically, the researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption, usually in the form of wine during meals, accounted for 23.5 percent of the benefit, whereas low levels of meat and meat products accounted for 16.6 percent, eating a lot of vegetables accounted for 16.2 percent and lot of fruit and nuts accounted for 11.2 percent. High monounsaturated fat and saturated fat caused 11.2 percent of the benefit and high legume consumption accounted for 9.7 percent.
The findings, the researchers say, should help people pick the parts of the Mediterranean diet most likely to help them live longer.
June 25, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Alcohol and Drugs , Cardiovascular Health , Chronic Conditions , Family Health , General Health , Nutrition and Fitness
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