It is never too late to start following a Mediterranean diet, new research suggests.
Adopting the Mediterranean way of eating, which includes plenty of vegetables, fish and olive oil, after 65 years old reduces a person’s risk of dying too soon by 25 per cent, a study found today.
And the more strictly a pensioner follows the Mediterranean diet, which also includes a glass of wine with meals, the less likely they are to die prematurely, the research adds.
Study author Dr Licia Iacoviello, from the IRCCS Neuromed hospital, Molise, Italy, said: ‘With the progressive ageing of the world population, we know that, in a few years, people over 65 will represent about a quarter of Europeans.
Researcher Giovanni de Gaetano added: ‘Our study is a robust basis to encourage a healthy diet model inspired by the principles of the Mediterranean diet, even among older people.’
It is never too late to start following a Mediterranean diet, new research suggests (stock)
EXPLAINED: THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Consuming more fruit and fish, and fewer sugary drinks and snacks, are the most important aspects of a Mediterranean diet.
- Whole grains
- Fish and meat
- Monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil
- Saturated fats, like butter
- Red meat
- Processed foods, like juice and white bread
- A glass of red wine here and there is fine
How you can follow it:
- Eat more fish
- Squeeze more fruit & veg into every meal
- Swap your sunflower oil or butter for extra virgin olive oil
- Snack on nuts
- Eat fruit for dessert
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed more than 5,000 over 65-year-olds who were taking part in the Moli-sani Study. They were followed for eight years.
They also assessed a total of 12,000 people from other studies conducted in six countries.
In all of the analyses, the researchers assessed the link between adopting the Mediterranean diet in later life and mortality.
Lead author Marialaura Bonaccio said: ‘The novelty of our research is to have focused our attention on a population over 65 years old.
‘We already knew that the Mediterranean diet is able to reduce the risk of mortality in the general population, but we did not know whether it would be the same specifically for elderly people.’
‘Moderate consumption of alcohol is protective for health’
Results suggest eating a Mediterranean diet, which also includes plenty of whole grains and pulses, reduces an older people’s risk of dying too soon by 25 per cent.
Study author Marialaura Bonaccio said: ‘Our research considers nutrition as a whole, but it is still interesting to understand which foods mainly contribute to the “driving” effect of the Mediterranean diet.’
The scientists believe ‘good fats’ like olive oil, which are used in high amounts in the Mediterranean diet, are behind the eating plan’s benefits. They add moderate drinking can also boost a person’s health.
Dr Iacoviello said: ‘Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages, if inserted in a Mediterranean food context, is a protective factor for our health’.
The findings were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Adopting the Mediterranean way of eating, which includes plenty of vegetables, fish and olive oil, after 65 years old reduces a person’s risk of dying too soon by 25 per cent (stock)
Mediterranean diet may delay Alzheimer’s by more than three years
This comes after research suggested following a Mediterranean diet may delay dementia.
People who eat lots of vegetables, fish and olive oil have 15 per cent less of the protein beta-amyloid, which can stick together to form plaques in the brain that are linked to Alzheimer’s, according to a study by Weill Cornell Medical College.
Just three years of following a Mediterranean diet also preserves brain activity, which could postpone Alzheimer’s onset by three-and-a-half years, the researchers add.
Professor Ralph Martins, from Edith Cowen University, Joondalup, Australia, who was not involved in the study, believes lifestyle has a huge role to play in Alzheimer’s onset, with medication often being unsuccessful if taken when the brain is already damaged.
Previous research suggests the anti-inflammatory properties of staple Mediterranean foods, such as oily fish and vegetables, may prevent dementia by stopping blood-vessel damage in the brain.
Alzheimer’s affects around 5.5 million people in the US and 850,000 in the UK.