Want to have a better quality of life? Try following the Mediterranean diet.
According to Spanish researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and University of Navarra, adherence to a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables and fish is associated with better mental and physical health.
The researchers analyzed information from 11,000 college graduates who were participants in the SUN Project (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra), an ongoing, cohort study carried out to identify dietary determinants of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease, among other conditions.
For the study that was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers used a food frequency questionnaire and other surveys to assess self-perceived quality of life. The results showed that the more closely participants followed the Mediterranean diet, the higher they scored on the quality of life questionnaires in terms of physical and mental well-being.
The researchers note that there have been numerous studies showing that the Mediterranean diet may not only protect against chronic disease, by reducing inflammatory status, but also provide better control to individuals who already have these diseases. And they add that there are many studies that associate the Mediterranean diet with better mental heath status as well.
While we know that olive oil, one of the main components of the Mediterranean diet, has also been associated with improved physical and mental health, it is important to note that nutrition epidemiologists are now focusing on dietary patterns rather than single foods or components, and how these components interact with each other.