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Mediterranean Diet May Boost Longevity

Study Shows Benefits of Diet That Favors Less Meat, More Veggies, and Olive Oil
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 23, 2009 -- Want to live a long time? When you prepare dinner tonight, go heavy on the vegetables, skip the meat, and enjoy a bit of wine.

Past research already has linked the so-called Mediterranean diet with longevity. A new study finds that certain aspects of the diet -- such as high consumption of vegetables and olive oil, low consumption of meat, and moderate consumption of alcohol -- may be more strongly linked to longevity.

Researchers looked at the Greek participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. This included 23,349 men and women not previously diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.

Researchers examined their diets and followed them for 8.5 years, on average, until June 2008. All diets were rated according to how closely they adhered to a traditional Mediterranean diet.

During the study period, there were 652 deaths among 12,694 participants who had lower Mediterranean diet scores of 0-4 and 423 deaths among the 10,655 participants who had higher scores of at least 5. In general, those with higher scores were more likely to still be alive at the end of the study.

Certain aspects of the diet were more linked to this phenomenon than others. Contributors, in order of importance, were: moderate alcohol consumption, low consumption of meat and meat products, high vegetable consumption, high fruit and nut consumption, high monounsaturated to saturated fat ratio, and high legume consumption.

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