Health Studies

Mediterranean Diet and Blood Glucose Control

A meta-analysis was conducted by a research group in the UK to evaluate the effects of the Mediterranean diet compared to other dietary patterns on measures of glycemic control irrespective of weight loss. Interventions conducted on free-living individuals were included. The Mediterranean diet had no effect of fasting plasma glucose compared to other healthy dietary patterns but improvements in H1AC were noted in those at risk of or with diabetes.
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. [Epub June 22, 2013] (Carter et al.)

Mediterranean Diet and Bone Health in the Elderly

A group of scientists in France looked at the relationship between following a Mediterranean diet and fractures in a group of 1,400 elderly people from Bordeaux, France. Researchers collected information on diet and used it to measure how closely they were following the Mediterranean diet. After analyzing the reported fractures and comparing this with adherence to a Mediterranean diet they found no relationship between the two.
Osteoperosis International. [Epub June 20, 2013] (Feart et al.)

Lifestyle Changes Reduce Risk of Heart Disease & Death

Johns Hopkins University researchers followed more than 6,200 men and women, age 44-84, from white, African-American, Hispanic, and Chinese backgrounds for an average of more than 7 years. People who exercised regularly, ate a Mediterranean-style diet, kept a normal weight, and did not smoke had an 80 percent lower death rate over the study’s time period compared to participants with none of the healthy behaviors. Roger Blumenthal, M.D., a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, director of the Ciccarone Center, president of the American Heart Association’s Maryland affiliate, and senior author of the study says the findings “bolster recent recommendations by the American Heart Association, which call for maintaining a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish, keeping a BMI of less than 25, being physically active and not smoking.”
American Journal of Epidemiology. Epub 2013 June 10. [Ahmed, et al.]

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Night Sweats and Hot Flushes in Menopause

Hot flushes and night sweats are two common yet unpleasant symptoms during menopause, but no dietary recommendations have been identified to prevent them. To better understand the relationship between food and menopause, researchers in Australia followed over 6,000 middle-aged women for over 9-years, collecting information on their diet, hot flushes, and night sweats.  The scientists found that a Mediterranean style diet (characterized by garlic, peppers, mushrooms, salad greens, pasta, and red wine) and a diet high in fruit significantly decreased night sweats and hot flushes, while high-fat and high-sugar diets (characterized by sweet biscuits, cakes, jam, meat pies, and chocolate) significantly increased these symptoms.  
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013 May;97(5):1092-9. (Herber-Gast GC et al). 

Aging, Depression, and the Mediterranean Diet

A group of investigators from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago conducted a study among participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) into the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and depression among older adults. They found that in this large, biracial community greater adherence to a Mediterranean pattern of eating including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and legumes, was associated with a decreased likelihood of developing depressive symptoms over time. The link between the Mediterranean diet and mental health may be found in a number of dietary components of the diet like B-vitamins, antioxidant nutrients, and fat components.
The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. 2013; 17(5):441-445. (Skarupski et al.)

Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Incident Cognitive Impairment

Researchers from Greece, the Czech Republic, and the United States collaborated to follow more than 17,000 individuals for approximately 4 years to evaluate the effects of the Mediterranean Diet on cognitive status. Using Food Frequency Questionnaires, they determined that higher adherence to the Mediterranean Diet was associated with lower likelihood of incident cognitive impairment, even after adjusting for demographic characteristics, environmental factors, vascular risk factors, depressive symptoms, and self-reported health status. Although higher adherence to the Mediterranean Diet reduced risk of incident cognitive impairment in nondiabetic individuals, it did not yield the same results in patients with diabetes.
Neurology. 2013 Apr 30; 80(18):1684-1692. (Tsivgoulis et al.)

Mediterranean Diet, Cognitive Function and Dementia

A group in the UK conducted a systematic review of the literature currently available concerning the possible relationship between the Mediterranean diet, cognitive function and dementia. After analyzing the available research they found that most published studies (9 out of 12) suggest greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with slower mental decline and decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. More research is needed to clarify the relationship of the Med Diet with vascular dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
Epidemiology. 2013; 24(4):479-489. (Lourida et al.)

Reduced Risk of Colorectal Cancer with Mediterranean Diet

A group of investigators in Europe looked at the relationship between risk for colorectal cancer and adherence to the Mediterranean Diet in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) and Nutrition study. For the EPIC study about 520,000 apparently healthy people were recruited from 1993-2000 in 23 research centers in 10 European countries. After an average follow-up of around 11 years the researchers found evidence that suggests that adherence to a Mediterranean Diet is associated with moderately reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
European Journal of Epidemiology. 2013;(28:317-328. (Bami et al.)

Vegetarian Diet and Heart Health

A group of scientists in England conducted a study that looked at 44,000 people enrolled in a study in England and Scotland. They measured factors that are related to heart health and ischemic heart disease. After comparing vegetarians to non-vegetarians they found that vegetarians were 32% less likely to develop ischemic heart disease.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 97:597-603. (Crowe et al.)

Med Diet Healthy and Affordable

A study published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition helps debunk the myth that the Mediterranean Diet is cost prohibitive for families on tight budgets. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank sponsored a six-week cooking program focused on plant-based cooking with olive oil. Study authors followed the 63 participants for six months to determine whether their grocery shopping and cooking habits changed as a result of the program. At the end of the study participants had decreased their total food expenses, purchases of meat, and consumption of "junk" food. Results also suggest that eating 2 to 3 vegetarian meals per week increases fruit and vegetable consumption and helps with weight control.
Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. March 2013; 8(1). [Epub 2013 March 14] [Flynn, Reinert & Schiff]

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