For decades, nutrition researchers have praised the Mediterranean diet for its heart health benefits and links to longevity. Contrary to popular belief, however, the advantages of this eating pattern don’t wait until the retirement years to emerge. No matter how old (or young!) you are, a Mediterranean diet is a delicious way to promote good health and wellbeing. Here’s a quick peek at some of the newest research on the health benefits of Mediterranean diets, across the lifecycle. For more Mediterranean diet health studies, be sure to browse our health studies database.



Healthy Diets (Like the Mediterranean Diet) Linked with Better Sperm Quality

For couples trying to get pregnant, a healthy diet may help tilt the odds in their favor. In a new study published this March, analyzing 35 observational studies from around the world, scientists found that a healthy diet (e.g., a Mediterranean diet) with lots of seafood, poultry, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, and grains is associated with better sperm quality. They also found that in some studies, processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy, coffee, alcohol, sugary drinks, and sweets were linked with poor sperm quality and male infertility.


Mediterranean Diet Linked with Less ADHD in Kids

In a new study published this year, Spanish researchers found that children most closely following a Mediterranean diet (eating a second serving of fruit daily, eating vegetables daily, and eating pasta or rice almost every day) were significantly less likely to have ADHD. Children with ADHD were also more likely to eat more fast food, soft drinks, and candy, and were more likely to skip breakfast. 


Mediterranean Diet Improves Function of Good Cholesterol

We used to only be able to measure the quantity of HDL (“good cholesterol”), but now, scientists are also able to measure its quality – how well the HDL is functioning. In a new study published this February, researchers analyzed data from 296 participants in the PREDIMED trial (a randomized, controlled study where people at risk of heart disease were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet with nuts, a Mediterranean diet with olive oil, or a low-fat diet). Both Mediterranean diet groups improved cholesterol efflux capacity (how well the LDL, “bad cholesterol,” is transported out by the HDL, “good cholesterol”). However, the olive oil group also had improved HDL antioxidant properties and improved blood vessel protection.


Mediterranean Diet Linked with Less Age-Related Brain Shrinkage

As people age, their brains gradually shrink over time. But certain lifestyle habits may be able to slow this loss. In a 2017 study of more than 1,000 elderly Scottish adults, researchers found that those most closely following a Mediterranean diet lost significantly less total brain volume over the 3-year study period than those who didn’t eat a Mediterranean diet. The authors also found that “fish and meat consumption does not drive this change, suggesting that other components of the [Mediterranean Diet] or, possibly, all of its components in combination, are responsible for the association.”

Kelly Toups, Program Director, Whole Grains Council; Oldways Staff RD

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