June 25, 2009

Some parts of Med diet better than others

Some food groups of the Mediterranean diet contribute more than others in promoting health and longer life, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Dimitrios Trichopoulos at the Harvard School of Public Health says the study involved surveys of more than 23,000 men and women who were participants in the Greek segment of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.

Participants were given dietary and lifestyle questionnaires when they enrolled onto the study and they were subsequently followed up for around 8.5 years with interviews. Their diets were rated based on the level of conformity to a traditional Mediterranean diet.

In addition, participants were also asked about their smoking status, levels of physical activity and whether they had ever been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found the main reasons why the Mediterranean diet can lead to living longer are moderate consumption of alcohol, mostly in the form of wine during meals; low consumption of meat and meat products and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil and legumes.

They are clear benefits in combining several of the key components such as high consumption of vegetables and olive oil, the researchers say.

However, a diet high in fish, seafood and cereals and low in dairy products -- all parts of a Mediterranean diet -- were not indicators of longevity.