Mediterranean Diet Tied to 23% Lower Risk of Death in Landmark 25-Year Study

Researchers found that the Mediterranean diet reduced all-cause mortality by 23% among U.S. women, likely due to beneficial changes in metabolism and markers of inflammation, highlighting its potential to improve public health.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital explored and analyzed the fundamental reasons that could explain the 23 percent reduction in overall mortality risk caused by the Mediterranean diet among American women.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital explored and evaluated potential underlying mechanisms that could explain the 23 percent decreased risk of all-cause mortality among American women following the Mediterranean diet.

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been reported in numerous studies, but there is little long-term data on its effects in American women and little knowledge about why the diet may reduce the risk of death. In a new study that followed more than 25,000 initially healthy American women for up to 25 years, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham Health System, found that participants who consumed more of the Mediterranean diet had up to 23% lower risk of all-cause mortality, with benefits in terms of cancer mortality and cardiovascular mortality. The researchers found evidence of biological changes that could help explain why: they detected changes in biomarkers of metabolism, inflammation,

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It is produced by the pancreas and released into the bloodstream when blood glucose levels rise, for example after a meal. Insulin helps transport glucose from the bloodstream to cells, where it can be used as an energy source or stored for later use. Insulin also helps regulate fat and protein metabolism. In people with diabetes, their bodies do not produce enough insulin or respond properly to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”({“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”})” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>insulin resistance and more. The results are published in JAMA.

“For women who want to live longer, our study advises monitoring their diet! The good news is that following a Mediterranean diet could lead to a reduction in the risk of death by around a quarter over 25 years, with a benefit on both cancer and cardiovascular mortality, the leading causes of death among women (and men) in the United States and globally,” said lead author Samia Mora, MD, a cardiologist and director of the Center for Lipid Metabolomics at Brigham.

Diet Details and Research Insights

The Mediterranean diet is a diverse diet rich in plants (nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes). The main fat is olive oil (usually extra virgin), and the diet additionally includes moderate consumption of fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs and alcohol, as well as rare consumption meats, sweets and processed foods.

The present study investigated the long-term benefits of adhering to a Mediterranean diet in a US population recruited from the Women’s Health Study and explored the biological mechanisms that may explain the health benefits of the diet. . Study investigators evaluated a panel of approximately 40 biomarkers representing various biological pathways and clinical risk factors.

Biomarkers of metabolism and inflammation made the greatest contribution, followed by triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, adiposity, and insulin resistance. Other biological pathways involve branched chains

amino acids
Amino acids are a set of organic compounds used to build proteins. There are approximately 500 known naturally occurring amino acids, although only 20 appear in the genetic code. Proteins are made up of one or more chains of amino acids called polypeptides. The sequence of the amino acid chain causes the polypeptide to fold into a biologically active form. The amino acid sequences of proteins are encoded in genes. Nine proteinogenic amino acids are called “essential” for humans because they cannot be produced by the human body from other compounds and must therefore be ingested in the diet.

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”({“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”})” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>amino acidshigh-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, glycemic measurements and hypertension have a lesser contribution.

“Our research provides significant public health information: even modest changes in established risk factors for metabolic diseases, particularly those related to small molecule metabolites, inflammation, triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, obesity and insulin resistance, can generate substantial long-term benefits from following a Mediterranean diet. This finding highlights the potential for encouraging healthier dietary habits to reduce overall mortality risk,” said lead author Shafqat Ahmad, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden and researcher at the Center for Lipid Metabolomics and the Prevention Division. Medicine at the Brigham.

Limitations of the study and cultural adaptations

The current study identifies important biological pathways that may help explain all-cause mortality risk. However, the authors note some key limitations, including that the study was limited to well-educated, middle-aged and older female healthcare professionals, who were predominantly non-Hispanic and white. The study used questionnaires on meal frequency and other self-reported measurements, such as height, weight and blood pressure. But the study’s strengths lie in its large scale and long follow-up period.

The authors also note that as the concept of the Mediterranean diet has gained popularity, the diet has been adapted in different countries and cultures.

“The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are recognized by health professionals, and our study provides insight into why the diet may be so beneficial. Public health policies should promote the healthy dietary attributes of the Mediterranean diet and discourage unhealthy adaptations,” Mora said.

Reference: “Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and risk of all-cause mortality among women” by Shafqat Ahmad, M. Vinayaga Moorthy, I-Min Lee, Paul M Ridker, JoAnn E. Manson, Julie E. Buring, Olga V. Demler and Samia Mora, May 31, 2024,

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