The Mediterranean diet, already considered one of the healthiest diets because of its link to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases, has a new feather in its cap. A study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers found women who regularly consumed this diet – rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits, vegetables, and wine in moderation may – live longer.
The study was published December 2, 2014 online in The BMJ (British Medical Journal).
The researchers studied nutritional data from 4,676 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. They found that those who ate mostly a Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres, a biomarker linked to longevity.
“To our knowledge this is the largest population-based study specifically addressing the association between Mediterranean diet adherence and telomere length in healthy, middle-aged women,” senior author Immaculata De Vivo, associate professor in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and at HSPH, said in a Harvard Gazette article on December 2. “Our results further support the benefits of adherence to this diet to promote health and longevity.”
Other HSPH authors included Teresa Fung, adjunct professor of nutrition; Bettina Julin, research fellow; Qi Sun, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, and Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology.
Read the study: Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses’ Health Study: population based cohort study
Read the Harvard Gazette article: Mediterranean diet has marked impact on aging
Mediterranean diet linked with lower heart disease risk among young U.S. workers (HSPH press release)
Nutrition news: Widely studied Mediterranean diet linked to good health (HSPH News)
Close Adherence to a Traditional Mediterranean Diet Promotes Longevity (HSPH press release)