Mediterranean Diet Linked To Reduced All-Cause Mortality

Armen Hareyan's picture

The evidence shows that the Mediterranean Diet is strongly associated with healthy lifestyle and low mortality.

In a recent NIH-AARP Diet and Health study, published in the latest Archives of Internal Medicine, the Mediterranean diet is shown to have a strong association with low all-cause mortality in US population.

The Abstract - Study participants included 214 284 men and 166 012 women in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) Diet and Health Study. During follow-up for all-cause mortality (1995-2005), 27 799 deaths were documented. In the first 5 years of follow-up, 5985 cancer deaths and 3451 cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths were reported. We used a 9-point score to assess conformity with the Mediterranean dietary pattern (components included vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, monounsaturated fat-saturated fat ratio, alcohol, and meat). We calculated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using age- and multivariate-adjusted Cox models.


The Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced all-cause and cause-specific mortality. In men, the multivariate HRs comparing high to low conformity for all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality were 0.79 (95% CI, 0.76-0.83), 0.78 (95% CI, 0.69-0.87), and 0.83 (95% CI, 0.76-0.91), respectively. In women, an inverse association was seen with high conformity with this pattern: decreased risks that ranged from 12% for cancer mortality to 20% for all-cause mortality (P = .04 and P < .001, respectively, for the trend). When we restricted our analyses to never smokers, associations were virtually unchanged.

These results provide strong evidence for a beneficial effect of higher conformity with the Mediterranean dietary pattern on risk of death from all causes, including deaths due to CVD and cancer, in a US population.

"Defining and understanding the Mediterranean Nutrition and Diet is not easy because there are several countries that border the Mediterranean Basin. Still, the traditional diets from the people living in the 1960's in countries like Greece, and Southern Italy have been studied extensively over the past several years."

"This is due to the notably low incidence of chronic diseases and high life-expectancy rates attributed to these populations who ate traditional Mediterranean diet foods.The traditional Mediterranean diet delivers as much as 40% of total daily calories from fat, yet the associated incidence of cardiovascular diseases is significantly decreased.As a monosaturated fatty acid, olive oil does not have the same cholesterol-raising effect of saturated fats. Olive oil is also a good source of antioxidants. Eating fish a few times per week benefits the Mediterranean people by increasing the amount of "Omega-3 fatty acids" - something that the rest of the developed societies don't get enough of.

"Eating red meat sparingly seems to also increase health. There is a general consensus among health professionals that the Mediterranean Diet is healthier than the North European and American diet because more grains, such as spaghetti, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and olive oil are consumed."