`Mediterranean Diet Associated with Longevity


Mediterranean Diet Associated with Longevity

Dec. 3, 2014
Elena Paravantes

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Jeanne Louise Cal­ment had the longest con­firmed human lifes­pan on record, liv­ing to the age of 122 years, 164 days. She cred­ited her longevity to the reg­u­lar use of olive oil in her diet.

Many stud­ies have asso­ci­ated the Mediter­ranean diet with pro­tec­tion from a num­ber of chronic dis­eases such as heart dis­ease and dia­betes. Now, Har­vard researchers pro­vide addi­tional evi­dence that this eat­ing style pro­motes longevity.

Researchers from the Brigham and Wom­en’s Hos­pi­tal, a teach­ing hos­pi­tal of Har­vard Med­ical School, found that those fol­low­ing a Mediter­ranean diet had longer telom­eres, a bio­marker of aging.
See more: Olive Oil Health Ben­e­fits
Telom­eres are found at the ends of chro­mo­somes and pro­tect from dete­ri­o­ra­tion. Longer telom­eres have been asso­ci­ated with longer life, while shorter telom­eres have been asso­ci­ated with decreased life expectancy and increased risk of age-related dis­ease, accord­ing to the researchers.

Cer­tain lifestyle char­ac­ter­is­tics such as obe­sity, smok­ing, con­sump­tion of sugar sweet­ened bev­er­ages as well as oxida­tive stress have been asso­ci­ated with shorter telom­eres.

The find­ings pub­lished in the British Med­ical Jour­nal included data from 4,676 women from the Nurses’ Health Study — an ongo­ing study run­ning since 1976 that has been fol­low­ing over 120,000 nurses from the United States. The par­tic­i­pants filled out food fre­quency ques­tion­naires peri­od­i­cally (about every 4 years), and had blood tests for mea­sure­ment of telom­ere length. The Alter­nate Mediter­ranean Diet Score was used to assess adher­ence to the diet.

The results showed that greater adher­ence to a Mediter­ranean diet — char­ac­ter­ized by high intake of veg­eta­bles, olive oil, fruit, legumes and less red meat and sat­u­rated fats — was sig­nif­i­cantly asso­ci­ated with longer telom­ere length.

The researchers noted that oxida­tive stress can accel­er­ate telom­ere weak­en­ing and the estab­lished effect of the Mediter­ranean diet on oxida­tive stress may explain its effect on telom­ere length.


The researchers con­cluded that the results fur­ther sup­port the ben­e­fits of adher­ence to the Mediter­ranean diet for pro­mot­ing health and longevity.

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