Middle-aged women following a healthy Mediterranean-type diet — with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, moderate amounts of alcohol, and little red meat — have much greater odds of healthy aging later on, a new study reports.
“In this study, women with healthier dietary patterns at midlife were 40% more likely to survive to age 70 or over free of major chronic diseases and with no impairment in physical function, cognition or mental health,” said lead study author, Dr. Cécilia Samieri.
This new study, published in the November 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, adds to growing research on the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet recently reported including the following:
· Reduced fasting glucose concentrations and lipid levels in patients who are genetically at increased risk for type 2 diabetes as well as reduced risk for stroke;
· Lowered risk for type 2 diabetes by about 20% when the diet also included foods with low glycemic load;
· Slowed progression of carotid plaque;
· Improved cognitive function and;
· Cardiovascular events reduced by 30% in people at high risk vs. those receiving a low-fat diet.
The new study analysed 10,670 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study, which began in 1976 when female nurses aged 30 to 55 years completed a mail-in survey. Since then, study participants have been closely followed on a regular basis.
This diet focused on greater intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and polyunsaturated fatty acids; lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, red or processed meats, trans fats, and sodium; and moderate intake of alcoholic beverages.
The analysis revealed that greater adherence at midlife to Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 and Alternate Mediterranean diet was strongly associated with greater odds of healthy aging. When they analysed individual dietary components, researchers found statistically significant associations of greater intake of fruits and alcohol, and lower intakes of sweetened beverages with healthy aging.
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.
Samieri, C., Qi, S., Townsend, M., Chiuve, S., Okereke, O., Willett, W., Stampfer, M., Grodstein, F. (2013). The Association Between Dietary Patterns at Midlife and Health in Aging An Observational Study. Annals of Internal Medicine. 159(9) pp. 584-591.