Women Live Longer with Mediterranean Diet, Study Shows

Women Live Longer with Mediterranean Diet, Study Shows | Healthcare 360 Magazine


A recent study has revealed that women who adhered to a Mediterranean diet significantly extended their lifespans compared to those who did not. Conducted over a span of 25 years and involving more than 25,000 women, the research highlights the profound impact of diet on longevity and health outcomes, particularly concerning cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Significant Reduction in Mortality Risk

The study, spearheaded by Dr. Samia Mora, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, demonstrates that following a Mediterranean dietary pattern can reduce the risk of death by approximately 25% over a period of 25 years. Dr. Mora emphasized that the diet’s benefits extend to lowering mortality rates for both cancer and cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading causes of death among women.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes simple, plant-based meals featuring fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts, with a predominant use of extra-virgin olive oil. It limits the intake of red meat, butter, sugar, and refined foods, instead promoting healthy, oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, while poultry, dairy, and eggs are consumed in moderation.

Dr. David Katz, a preventive and lifestyle medicine expert, noted that adherence to the Mediterranean diet in the study was indicative of high diet quality, involving higher consumption of legumes, vegetables, fruits, and lower intake of meat and processed foods. Although the study is observational and does not establish direct causation, Katz pointed out that the findings align with numerous other studies supporting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Mediterranean Diet Linked to Longer Life for Women, Study Finds…

Unique Benefits for Women

The Mediterranean diet’s numerous health benefits are well-documented, including reductions in risks for breast cancer, dementia, depression, diabetes, high cholesterol, and memory loss. However, the specific effects on women, particularly over the long term, have been less explored.

Experts highlight the importance of studying women separately, as their physiological and molecular responses can differ significantly from men’s. Women’s hearts and brains function differently, and their symptoms for conditions like heart attacks vary. Additionally, metabolic processes, including the way women metabolize alcohol and medications, differ from men. Life stages unique to women, such as menarche and menopause, also introduce distinct health risks.

The new study, published in JAMA Network Open, involved tracking the diets and health outcomes of 25,315 healthy women from the Women’s Health Study between 1993 and 1996, with follow-ups from 2018 to 2023. The results indicated that a strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet decreased the risk of early death by 23%, cancer mortality by 17%, and cardiovascular disease mortality by 20%.

Lead author Shafqat Ahmad from Uppsala University noted a clear gradient of benefit: the more closely women followed the diet, the greater the health benefits. Each incremental increase in adherence was linked to a 6% reduction in all-cause mortality and a 5% decrease in mortality from heart disease or cancer.

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