Mediterranean Diet Linked With Long-Term Health Benefits for Teenagers

Adolescents who consumed food items of the Mediterranean diet had higher levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in their blood serum.

Sep. 29, 2021
By Jasmina Nevada

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Higher lev­els of adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet in teenagers may be a highly influ­en­tial fac­tor in pre­vent­ing meta­bolic and chronic dis­eases later in life, the results of a new study show.

Researchers in Calabria – the sec­ond largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region in Italy – ana­lyzed the serum of healthy ado­les­cents, aged 14 to 17.

Serum from opti­mal adher­ers showed anti-inflam­ma­tory and antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties which may exert a pos­i­tive impact on the pre­ven­tion of meta­bolic and chronic dis­eases in adult­hood.- Daniela Bonofiglio, nutri­tion pro­fes­sor, University of Calabria

They found higher lev­els of antiox­i­dants and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties in the serum of ado­les­cents more closely adher­ing to the Mediterranean diet.

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Our results high­light the impor­tance of the Mediterranean diet as a choice of healthy dietary qual­ity in ado­les­cents,” Daniela Bonofiglio, a pro­fes­sor of pathol­ogy, nutri­tion and dietet­ics at the University of Calabria, told Olive Oil Times.

Serum from opti­mal adher­ers showed anti-inflam­ma­tory and antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties which may exert a pos­i­tive impact on the pre­ven­tion of meta­bolic and chronic dis­eases in adult­hood,” she added.


Using the Mediterranean Diet Quality Index for chil­dren and teenagers (KIDMED), the researchers scored adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet in the ado­les­cents that par­tic­i­pated in the study.

A value of +1 was assigned for the intake of whole cere­als or grain, veg­eta­bles, fruits, legumes, dairy prod­ucts, fish, nuts and olive oil. A value of −1 was assigned for skip­ping break­fast, eat­ing fast food and con­sum­ing baked goods and sweets.

The results were ranked from zero to 12, with opti­mal adher­ence’ con­sid­ered a score of eight or more and poor adher­ence’ a score of three or lower.

Subjects pro­vided infor­ma­tion on their daily meals through a 24-hour dietary recall com­pleted via an inter­view con­ducted by nutri­tion­ists. This enabled the poten­tial antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties to be assessed using var­i­ous bio­mark­ers, as well as nutri­tional intake.

The results of the study showed that among the 43 per­cent of par­tic­i­pants who scored in the opti­mal adher­ence’ cat­e­gory, there was clear evi­dence of increased lev­els of antiox­i­dants and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties.

Bonofiglio was encour­aged by the results and said they fur­ther demon­strate the impor­tance of a healthy diet for ado­les­cents.

We think that the empow­er­ment of the Mediterranean diet adher­ence rep­re­sents a pro­tec­tive choice against a wide spec­trum of chronic dis­eases, includ­ing can­cer,” she said.

The research team plans to con­tinue inves­ti­gat­ing the impact of con­sum­ing a Mediterranean diet on young peo­ple.

Based on our recent results, we will inves­ti­gate in ado­les­cents the asso­ci­a­tion of bio­chem­i­cal serum para­me­ters with polyphe­no­lic con­tent of the Mediterranean diet foods, which have received con­sid­er­able atten­tion for their antiox­i­dant health-pro­mot­ing prop­er­ties in many chronic dis­or­ders,” Bonofiglio said.

Moreover, we will deeply explore the micronu­tri­ents com­po­si­tion of the Mediterranean diet in cor­re­la­tion with cir­cu­lat­ing lev­els of bio­mark­ers of defi­ciency in our pop­u­la­tion sam­ple,” she con­cluded.


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