Mediterranean Diet May Lengthen Women’s Lives

We don’t keep it a secret that we’re not huge fans of diets. They are restrictive, often involving arbitrary rules and off-limit foods. They frequently call for strict calorie guidelines. They can make you feel guilty or like you failed for not being able to stick to them. And, you almost always regain the weight when you stop following them because you only lost the weight as you were following a very tight meal plan.

We’ve always liked the Mediterranean diet because it’s a way of eating instead of strict rules. It’s about switching your mindset from the American diet to something more in line with the people who live in the Mediterranean. They eat a lot of nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies and olive oil. Their protein is mainly fish, poultry, dairy and eggs. Alcohol, red meat, sweets and processed foods don’t play a significant role in their day-to-day lives.

By thinking of it as an approach rather than what you can and can’t eat, you enjoy great foods without feeling like you aren’t allowed something you want. You can have whatever you want; just be mindful of your food and pay attention to portion sizes and how they are balanced.

A study that followed 25,000 women over 25 years found that those eating a Mediterranean diet were 23 percent less likely to die than those following other lifestyles. It might be because they consumed less alcohol, red meat, sugar and processed foods.

The study used women in the United States, not the Mediterranean. The women following the diet were 23 percent less likely to die from any cause, including cancer and heart problems — the leading causes of death. The women in the study were middle-aged or older and worked in the health sector. They were predominantly white.

The study had a weakness in that the diet information was self-reported. However, that was balanced by how massive the data pool was and the fact that it was gathered over 25 years.

For women who want to live longer, our study says watch your diet,” said cardiologist Samia Mora of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). “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 U.S. and globally.”

They looked at biomarkers in the women and found that following the diet improved metabolic and inflammatory processes. They had improvements in blood pressure and insulin resistance.

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,” said epidemiologist Shafqat Ahmad from BWH.

Banner image: Dana Tentis via Pexels

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