A new study is out that looks at how dietary patterns relate to mortality in a US population.
Those whose diets were closest to the Mediterranean ideal (lots of fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts) were 21% less likely to die over five years than those whose diets were least Mediterranean-like.
"These results provide strong evidence for a beneficial effect of higher conformity with the Mediterranean dietary pattern on risk of death from all causes, including deaths due to cardiovascular disease and cancer, in a US population," the authors conclude.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, discusses the previous work in this area as well, which has all noted health benefits to this type of diet. Researchers looked at diet and mortality in 380,296 men and women, 50 to 71 years old, who were participating in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.
The researchers found that the risk of death from any cause over the five-year follow-up period was lower for those with the most Mediterranean-like diets. Deaths from cancer or cardiovascular disease were also significantly lower in this group. The size of the group being studied means that this is one of the largest studies done on this topic.
An interesting sidenote for smokers . . . the benefit was especially strong in smokers who were not overweight, who nearly halved their risk of death if they closely followed the Mediterranean diet pattern. The authors suggest that smokers may have had the most to gain from the antioxidant and blood fat-lowering effects of Mediterranean-style eating.