In a recent study, Italian researchers found that the Mediterranean diet could contribute to long life for older people.
The research is done by the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of the I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed, in Molise, Italy.
A traditional Mediterranean-like diet is rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, pulses, olive oil, and cereals, low in meat and dairy products, with moderate wine consumption during meals.
It is known that the Mediterranean diet is able to reduce the risk of mortality in the general population, but it is unknown whether it would be the same specifically for elderly people.
In this study, the researchers analyzed the link between the Mediterranean diet and mortality in more than 5,000 people over 65 years of age and they followed the people up for 8 years.
In addition, the team analyzed other studies published in several countries, for a total of 12,000 subjects.
They found clearly that the Mediterranean diet strongly reduces the risk of mortality in elderly people: it is associated with a 25% reduction of all-cause mortality.
This effect remains also if they focused on cardiovascular or cerebrovascular mortality.
This means the more one follows the Mediterranean diet, the greater the gain in terms of mortality risk reduction.
The foods that offer greater protection within the Mediterranean diet model include high levels of monounsaturated fats (widely present in extra virgin olive oil) and fish.
They also include also moderate consumption of alcohol, preferably during meals.
The research results confirm that moderate alcohol drinking if inserted in a Mediterranean food context, is a protective factor for our health.
The researchers believe their finding has an important message in terms of public health.
With the progressive aging of the world population, in a few years, people over 65 will represent about a quarter of Europeans.
It is therefore important to find which factors can guarantee not only a long lifespan but also an acceptable quality of life.
Marialaura Bonaccio, epidemiologist at the Department, is the first author of the study.
The finding is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
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Source: British Journal of Nutrition.