Health Studies

Mediterranean Diet Associated With Healthy Aging, DNA

Telomeres, DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes, can tell us a lot about aging and longevity, as shorter telomeres are associated with many age related diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. To determine the relationship between DNA and diet, Harvard researchers analyzed food intake and telomere length from over 4,600 healthy nurses using data from the Nurses’ Health Study. Researchers found that people with the greatest adherence to the Mediterranean Diet (lots of vegetables, fruits, grains (mostly unrefined), fish, legumes, and nuts, and less meat) had the longest telomeres, a good indicator of healthy aging. Additionally, the scientists pointed out that no one specific food was pinpointed as the best, reinforcing the importance of a well-rounded, healthy diet.
British Medical Journal. 2014 Dec 2;349. (Crous-Bou M et al.)

Olive Oil May Decrease Risk for Coronary Artery Disease

The Mediterranean Diet has long been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, so researchers decided to take a closer look at how olive oil, one of the staples of this cuisine, might play a role in heart health. In a European study, researchers gave 63 healthy participants a daily 20 ml supplement of either refined olive oil (low phenolic content) or extra virgin olive oil (high phenolic content) for six weeks. Then researchers measured the participants for urinary proteomic biomarkers (certain peptides in the urine that are associated with specific diseases). After the six-week supplementation, both olive oil groups showed a significant improvement in the biomarkers for coronary artery disease, but no significant difference in the biomarkers for diabetes or chronic kidney disease, and no significant change in cholesterol levels.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014 Nov 19 [Epub ahead of print] (Silva S et al.)

 

Med Diet May Slow Decline in Kidney Function

Our kidneys have many important functions; besides filtering waste, they help control blood pressure, help make red blood cells, and more. The eGFR (estimated glomular filtration rate) is a blood lab that is used to assess kidney function, as low eGFR levels can indicate kidney damage or even kidney failure. In a 15 year study following  900 adults (free of stroke and coronary artery disease), researchers analyzed diet and eGFR status. The researchers found that people most closely following the Mediterranean Diet were least likely to have a low eGFR, and least likely to have a high rate of eGFR decline (which would have indicated a worsening of kidney function).
Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2014 Nov 7;9(11). (Khatri M et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Can Reverse Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a dangerous cluster of 3 or more conditions: central obesity (storing fat around your middle), high blood pressure, high triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood), high LDL (bad) cholesterol, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and high blood sugar. Metabolic syndrome greatly increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes, but luckily, researchers found a delicious way to reverse the condition. Scientists in Spain reviewed data collected during the PREDIMED study in which over 7,400 adults at risk of heart disease were randomly assigned to eat 1 of 3 diets: Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, Mediterranean Diet supplemented with nuts, or a control diet (patients received advice on a low-fat diet). Researchers found that while the Mediterranean diet was not associated with the onset of metabolic syndrome, reversal of the condition (decrease in central obesity and/or high blood sugar) occurred in nearly one third of patients eating either version of the delicious and nutritious Mediterranean diet.
Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2014 Oct 14. Pii:cmaj.140764. [Epub ahead of print] (Babio N et al).

Fat in Olive Oil Can Help Revive Ailing Hearts

We’ve long known that a Mediterranean inspired diet rich in olive oil is associated with disease prevention, but recent studies are showing promise in disease treatment as well. In an animal study at the University of Illinois, either palmitate (the dietary fat found in animal fats, dairy, and palm oil) or oleate (the dietary fat found in olive oil) was delivered directly to beating rat hearts with heart failure. The palmitate treated hearts continued failing, with depressed fat metabolism and storage. On the other hand, the oleate treated hearts greatly improved, with restored fat content in cells, improved contraction, and normalized fat metabolism genes. In fact, after observing the hearts treated with oleate, the scientists declared that the fat content, turnover, and oxidation in the failing hearts “were indistinguishable from those of the healthy heart."
Circulation. 2014 September 29, pii [Epub ahead of print] (Lahey R et al.)

Traditional Latin American Diet May Help Explain the Hispanic Paradox

Studies show that Hispanics live longer and have lower rates of heart disease than Non Hispanic Whites, despite a higher prevalence of risk factors for heart disease and mortality. This phenomenon has been dubbed the “Hispanic Paradox.” In a recent journal article, researchers suggest that the traditional Latin American diet may be a possible explanation for this relationship. Compared to the general U.S. population, Hispanics eat more legumes and fruit, foods known for their antioxidant activity and heart healthy properties. According to the researchers, another lifestyle factor that may have a protective effect on health is the high level of social and familial support in the Latin American culture.  
Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. 2014 September 4. Pii: S0033-0620(14)00133-9. [Epub ahead of print]

Mediterranean Diet Decreases Risk of Mouth Cancer

Diets high in fruits and vegetables have long been associated with a decreased risk of many cancers. In a recent European case controlled study, scientists investigated 2 years of self-reported dietary intakes of 768 people with incident cases of mouth cancer, and 2078 people with no history of mouth cancer. The food intakes were then evaluated for adherence to the Mediterranean Diet. After analyzing the data, researchers found strong evidence that those with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean Diet had the lowest risk for mouth cancer.
British Journal of Cancer. 2014 August 26;111(5):981-6 (Filomeno M. et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Decreases Diabetes Risk

Researchers in Vienna, Austria reviewed data from over 122,000 adults to investigate the association between the Mediterranean diet and diabetes risk. After analyzing eight prospective cohort studies and one clinical controlled trial published between 2007 and 2014, the scientists found that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant reduction (19%) in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Public Health Nutrition. 2014 Aug 22 [Epub ahead of print] (Schwingshackl L et al.)

Mediterranean Diet May Decrease Asthma in Children

Although environmental factors are related to asthma very little research exists on asthma and dietary patterns. Stanford researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 31 studies on asthma and diet. While the analysis found no association between diet and asthma prevalence in adults or of maternal diet with child asthma or wheeze, 7 of the 10 studies analyzing the Mediterranean diet showed protective effects on child asthma and/or wheeze. This research suggests that the Mediterranean diet may prevent asthma or wheeze in children.
Journal of Asthma and Allergy. 2014 Aug 12;7:105-21 (Lv N et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Can Protect Against Breast Cancer

In a study in Spain, scientists analyzed five years of dietary intake for 1017 women with incident cases of breast cancer, and 1017 healthy women of similar age without a history of breast cancer, and categorized their diet as Mediterranean, Western, or Prudent (low fat). Researchers found that women who consumed a Mediterranean diet pattern had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer, an association that was especially strong for triple-negative tumors (a type of breast cancer that does not respond to hormonal therapy). On the other hand, the Western diet was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, and the Prudent diet had no association to breast cancer risk.
British Journal of Cancer. 2014 Aug 7 [Epub ahead of print] (Castello et al.)

Recent Blog Posts

Ever wonder what food experts always have in their kitchens in case of an...
Does glycemic index matter? That’s the key question in a new study,...
This holiday season fill your life with friends, family, joy, and plants f...

E-Newsletter Sign-up

Sign up for one or more of our Oldways newsletters. After you enter your email and click Submit you’ll be given a chance to choose which newsletter(s) you want.

Email: