Study says Mediterranean-style diet may improve health in later life

The Washington Post reports a Mediterranean-style diet could “improve health in later life,” citing a paper from the Annals of Internal Medicine. The Post says researchers “analyzed data on 10,670 women, most in their late 50s and generally healthy.” Researchers assessed their mental and physical status, as well as dietary patterns, periodically over the next 15 years. Those who consumed more “plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables and nuts)” and “less red and processed meats, and moderate amounts of alcohol” had “about a 40 percent greater chance of living beyond age 70,” with a healthy life, compared to those whose diets were least like Mediterranean.

Forbes provides details of the study, noting that “compared to women with the lowest diet scores, women with diet scores in the highest quintile had a 61% to 80% increase in the odds of becoming a ‘healthy ager.’” The article says taking into account other known risk factors, “the women in the highest quintile had a 34%-46% increase,” with the trends all highly significant.

Moreover, the healthy agers “also had less hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, exercise more, and were less likely to be obese or to smoke.”

Summarizing their findings, the authors wrote that they “found that greater quality of diet at midlife was strongly associated with increased odds of good health and well-being among individuals surviving to older ages. These data may have an especially important role in promoting a healthy diet—maintaining physical, cognitive, and mental health with aging may provide a more powerful incentive for dietary change than simply prolonging life or avoiding any single chronic disease.”

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