Health benefits of Mediterranean food for the over-65s

The Mediterranean diet, modeled on the traditional eating patterns of the European population, is characterized by large quantities of vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains and olive oil, low amounts of meat and dairy products and moderate wine consumption.

The diet is consistently chosen because of the health benefits, which are supported by a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition that was that people aged 65 and older who followed the Mediterranean diet were 25 percent less likely to die from any cause for a period of eight years.

"We can confirm that higher compliance with the Mediterranean diet lowers the overall mortality risk on a dose response, progressive way," said co-author Licia Iacoviello, an epidemiologist from the Neurological Institute in the Mediterranean (NeuroMed), in a statement.

"In other words, the more you follow the Mediterranean diet, the greater the profit."

The new study was based on the Moli-sani project, which collects health and lifestyle data from more than 20,000 adults in southern Italy, as well as several other studies on the Mediterranean diet.

The researchers say it is the first study that focuses on the benefits of the diet for people aged 65 and older.

"We already knew that the Mediterranean diet is capable of reducing the risk of mortality among the general population, but we did not know whether it would be specific for the elderly." said the first author of the research, NeuroMed epidemiologist Marialaura Bonaccio.

The Mediterranean diet got a bit of a blow this year, after major shortcomings were noted in the striking 2013 study that approved it. That is a big problem for nutrition researchers; but this new research suggests that ordinary people are likely to benefit from following the guidelines of the diet.

"Our study is a robust foundation to encourage a healthy diet model inspired by the principles of the Mediterranean diet, even among the elderly," concluded NeuroMed director Giovanni de Gaetano.

READ FOLLOWING: The three most important changes in the diet: more fish, more fruit, less soft drinks

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