Health Studies

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 Decreases Risk of Frailty in Aging Adults

The Mediterranean diet stands the test of time! As part of a prospective cohort study in Spain, researchers assessed 1815 community dwelling older adults for adherence to the Mediterranean diet and measures of frailty (including exhaustion, muscle weakness, low physical activity, slow walking speed, and weight loss). The researchers found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was significantly associated with a decreased risk of frailty. The study also found that reduced frailty risk was related with increased fruit consumption and fish consumption.
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 2014 Aug 7 (Leon-Munoz LM et al.)

Long term improvement in vascular function after Mediterranean diet

A healthy vascular system is crucial to delivering oxygen and nutrients to body tissues, and research is showing that even short-term dietary changes can provide long-term benefits. In a small study in the United Kingdom, 22 healthy older individuals (average age = 55 years) followed an 8-week exercise program, and half of the individuals were randomly assigned to a Mediterranean diet for that time period. One year later, 20 of the individuals returned for a follow-up assessment testing their vascular function. The vascular function for both groups had improved from before the original 8-week trial, but the Mediterranean diet group showed an even greater improvement than the exercise-only group.
Microvascular Research. 2014 Aug 7;95C:103-107 (Klonizakis M 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.)

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Cognitive Decline

Just because you don’t live in the Mediterranean, doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the Mediterranean diet. An Australian study followed 527 healthy older adults (average age=69 years) in 3 different dietary pattern groups (Australian-style Mediterranean, Prudent/healthy, and Western) over a 3-year period. Researchers found that in participants with genetic predisposition to Alzheimers disease (APoE4 allele carriers), high adherence to the Australian-style Mediterranean diet (high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and fish) was associated with better executive function, the set of mental processes used in planning, strategizing, remembering details, and managing time and space.
Molecular Psychiatry. 2014 July 29. [Epub ahead of print] (Gardener SL et al.) 

Med Diet Slows Diabetes Progression

The Mediterranean Diet slowed the progression of type 2 diabetes more than a low-fat diet, in a recent randomized controlled trial in Naples, Italy, of 215 adults recently diagnosed with diabetes. The Med Diet group ate a diet high in olive oil, vegetables and whole grains, with poultry and fish replacing most red meat, while the low-fat group concentrated on restricting fatty or sugary snacks and limiting overall fat. At the six-year mark, all the people in the low-fat group needed medication, while some in the Med group were able to delay medication for two more years. People on the Med Diet also tended to lose more weight and to stick with the diet even after the trial ended.
Diabetes Care, ePub April 10, 2014. Esposito et al.
 

Med Diet and Lower Risk of Peripheral Artery Disease

Researchers for the PREDIMED study reviewed data that followed about 7,500 adults aged 55 to 80 who had a high risk of developing heart disease. The people were divided into 3 groups: one was assigned to eat a Mediterranean Diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil; one was assigned to eat a Mediterranean Diet enriched with nuts; and one was assigned to a control group that received advice on following a low-fat diet. Over five years a total of 89 participants developed peripheral artery disease (PAD), which deposits plaque in the arteries of the legs, restricting blood flow, and can cause pain during walking. Participants in the control group developed PAD at a rate of about 0.5% per year. The Med Diet with nuts group experienced half that rate, and the Med Diet with olive oil group experienced an even lower rate of 0.15% per year. Researchers believe this is the first randomized primary prevention trial to suggest an association between diet and reduced rates of PAD.
JAMA. 2014; 311(4):415-417 [Ruiz-Canela M, Estruch R, Corella D, Salas-Salvadó J, Martínez-González MA].

Med Diet May Help Cut Diabetes Risk without Cutting Calories

Researchers reviewed data collected during the PREDIMED study in which more than 3500 patients aged 55 to 80 years with high cardiovascular risk 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). None of the diets were calorie restricted. Over the course of the study 16% of the participants on a Med Diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and 18.7% of those on the Med Diet plus nuts developed type 2 diabetes, compared to 23.6% of the participants on the control diet, leading researchers to conclude that a Mediterranean Diet enriched with olive oil but without calorie restrictions can reduce diabetes risk for people with high cardiovascular risk.
Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014; 160(1):10-10-10. [Salas-Salvadó, et al].

Med Diet May Help Prevent Gestational Diabetes

Researchers assessed the dietary habits of more than 1000 pregnant women in 10 Mediterranean countries to determine their adherence to a Mediterranean Diet. The women were screened for gestational diabetes between their 24th and 32nd weeks of pregnancy. The researchers found that adherence to a Mediterranean Diet is associated with lower incidence of gestational diabetes. They call for further testing of the use of the Mediterranean Diet for the prevention of gestational diabetes.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014; 68:8-13. [Karamanos, et al].

Soffrito Contains Healthy Antioxidants

Different Mediterranean soffritos (sautéed vegetables and spices, usually a combination of tomatoes, garlic, and onions cooked in olive oil) were analyzed for their content of healthy antioxidants. Researchers identified 40 different types of polyphenols, including some never previously reported in Mediterranean soffrito. Polyphenols are associated with low incidence of cardiovascular disease. The soffritos also contained other beneficial compounds such as carotenoids and vitamin C. The amount of the antioxidants differed among soffritos according to the type of vegetables or olive oil used to make them. Researchers also discovered that the health benefits obtained from soffrito are better than the benefits obtained from eating each ingredient separately.

Food Chemistry. 2013 Dec 15; 141(4): 3365-3372 (Vallverdú-Querald, et al.) [EPub ahead of print]

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