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50+: Live Better, Longer

Mediterranean Diet May Help Women Live Longer, Healthier Lives

Study finds that following diet during middle age ups odds of living past 70 by 40 percent
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Although the study did not look at men, Samieri said, previous studies on diet and healthy aging have found no gender differences, "so it seems reasonable to believe that the benefit would be similar." She added, however, that the assumption remains to be proven.

Although Samieri did not study the effect of how long someone was on a diet, she said adopting it earlier rather than later is probably better.

What's the key to the diet seeming to give more years? Samieri said the analysis suggests that the overall healthy diet patterns had a greater impact rather than any individual food.

Other studies also have found that healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet are linked to better long-term health, but this new study is only observational, said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. That means "cause and effect cannot be conclusively linked," said Diekman, former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Among the other limitations of the study, she said, is that the researchers looked at only two food questionnaires during the study period, providing a far from thorough look at actual eating habits.

Diekman said, however, that there are plenty of reasons to promote better diets such as the Mediterranean.

"We know that healthier behaviors in women, and men, become a pattern, and thus a lifestyle that promotes health," she said.

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