Med Diet Benefits Similar to Walking 4,000 Steps, Study Finds

Researchers at a Boston hospital found that following the Mediterranean diet had a similar health benefit to walking 4,000 steps each day.
By Thomas Sechehaye
Jun. 8, 2023 13:39 UTC

A new study pub­lished in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology shows that the ben­e­fits of a Mediterranean diet are sim­i­lar to walk­ing 4,000 steps a day.

The improve­ment in fit­ness we observed in par­tic­i­pants with bet­ter diets was sim­i­lar to the effect of tak­ing 4,000 more steps each day,” Michael Mi, a car­di­ol­o­gist at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and study author, told Medical News Today.

Mi describes the study as obser­va­tional, explor­ing the rela­tion­ship between diet, fit­ness and metab­o­lism.

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The data sug­gests that eat­ing a healthy diet may be asso­ci­ated with bet­ter meta­bolic health. The study exam­ined par­tic­i­pants’ blood sam­ples for metabo­lites asso­ci­ated with poor diet or favor­able diet and fit­ness.

While the meta­bolic data con­firms that eat­ing health­ily is related to bet­ter fit­ness, it was incon­clu­sive that eat­ing well caused bet­ter fit­ness or that bet­ter fit­ness inspired health­ier eat­ing.

Researchers stud­ied 2,380 peo­ple in the Framington Heart Study, 54 per­cent of whom were women with an aver­age age of 54.

Participants were eval­u­ated for phys­i­cal fit­ness, food fre­quency, fast­ing blood con­cen­tra­tions of 201 metabo­lites and a dietary qual­ity eval­u­a­tion.

The dietary qual­ity was assessed by two mea­sures asso­ci­ated with good heart health: the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) and the Mediterranean-Style Diet Score (MDS). In both indexes, the higher score indi­cates a bet­ter out­come.

According to Natalie McCormick, a med­ical research fel­low at Harvard Medical School, AHEI is more ori­ented toward reduc­ing the risk of chronic dis­ease.”

Researchers exam­ined the con­nec­tion between fit­ness and diet, eval­u­at­ing fac­tors such as daily phys­i­cal activ­ity level, energy intake, body mass index, smok­ing sta­tus, cho­les­terol, blood pres­sure, dia­betes, age and sex.

Compared to an aver­age score, the data for AHEI was 67, an increase of 13 points. The data for MDS was approx­i­mately 12, a five-point increase above the aver­age.

Getting 10,000 steps per day is con­sid­ered the gold stan­dard for health. However, Jack Craig, a cer­ti­fied per­sonal trainer for Inside Bodybuilding, told Medical News Today the aver­age num­ber of steps per day most seden­tary peo­ple are get­ting in the United States is 4,000.

Mediterranean diets are among the most noto­ri­ous heart-healthy diets,” he added. They are rich in ingre­di­ents. Walking through­out the day, even in short five-minute breaks, can reduce blood pres­sure and blood sugar, as well as ele­vate your mood.”

Walking is a top rec­om­men­da­tion from the American Heart Association (AHA) and pro­vides an impor­tant stim­u­lus for bal­ance, bone den­sity, flex­i­bil­ity and mus­cle devel­op­ment.

AHA notes that 10,000 steps a day may seem too intim­i­dat­ing for begin­ners. However, Amanda Paluch, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor at the University of Massachusetts’ School of Public Health and Health Science, said 5,000 to 6,000 steps may ben­e­fit heart health.

The mes­sage is to move more,” Paluch said. Just get­ting incre­men­tal increases in your steps could be mean­ing­ful in your car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.”


According to a Stanford study, walk­ing boosts cre­ative inspi­ra­tion. The study found that cre­ative think­ing sky­rock­eted by 60 per­cent.

To take this into daily prac­tice, Stanford researchers rec­om­mend look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties to swap sit­ting for stand­ing. For exam­ple, con­sider turn­ing a work meet­ing into a walk­ing meet­ing. Find ways to inte­grate bursts of phys­i­cal activ­ity into the day.

Ruth Mercurio, the owner of We Olive and a for­mer mem­ber of the board of direc­tors for the California Olive Oil Council, told Olive Oil Times that her com­pany pro­motes the Food and Drug Administration’s qual­i­fied health claim for olive oil.

At We Olive, we proudly pro­mote the FDA’s rec­om­men­da­tion of con­sum­ing at least two table­spoons of extra vir­gin olive oil daily for longevity, as it unlocks many won­der­ful health ben­e­fits.

Extensive stud­ies over the past 50 years con­sis­tently reveal that incor­po­rat­ing extra vir­gin olive oil into your diet sig­nif­i­cantly low­ers the risk of heart dis­ease, stroke and mor­tal­ity,” she added. Additionally, it aids in reg­u­lat­ing insulin lev­els, strength­en­ing the immune sys­tem, reduc­ing the risk of cer­tain can­cers and pro­mot­ing improved diges­tive and brain health.”

Shaana Rahman, the owner of BoccaBella Farms, told Olive Oil Times that research into the antiox­i­dants and anti-inflam­ma­tory bioac­tive com­pounds in extra vir­gin olive oil con­tin­ues to return excit­ing results.

The process of mak­ing a true extra vir­gin olive oil pro­tects the phe­nols in the olive oil, which are thought to be one of the keys to extra vir­gin olive oil’s health ben­e­fits,” she said. It’s so impor­tant for peo­ple to under­stand the dif­fer­ence in grades of olive oil and how the olive oil is processed, as that can make a big dif­fer­ence in the poten­tial health ben­e­fits.”

According to Kathy McManus, direc­tor of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, it is easy to incor­po­rate healthy AHEI foods into the daily diet.

Top choices to focus on include veg­eta­bles, fruit, whole grains, veg­etable pro­tein, fish and healthy fats.

In a Harvard Medical School inter­view, McManus offers sug­ges­tions for easy dietary upgrades.

She sug­gested choos­ing five veg­eta­bles a day. Aim for four serv­ings of fruits daily and five to six serv­ings a day of whole grains. Emphasize veg­etable pro­tein and a weekly dose of fish. Enjoy the ben­e­fits of unsat­u­rated fats, such as olive oil. Swap sat­u­rated fats such as but­ter in favor of healthy oils.

An easy way to incor­po­rate olive oil into your health rou­tine is by adding two table­spoons into your morn­ing smoothie,” Rahman said.

Richard and Myrna Meisler, own­ers and farm­ers of the San Miguel Olive Farm, shared a unique per­spec­tive on the health ben­e­fits of high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil.

Richard is cel­e­brat­ing his 85th birth­day on Friday, and Myrna just turned 84,” they said. We are full-time users of our health­ful olive oil and work pretty much full-time in our busi­ness. Twenty-one awards at NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition… that should tell the story.”


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