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Mediterranean Diet Helps Women Live Much Longer

Women who closely followed a Mediterranean diet lived much longer than those who did not, according to a new study that followed more than 25,000 women for 25 years.

“For women interested in longevity, our study shows that following a Mediterranean dietary pattern could result in about one quarter reduction in risk of death over more than 25 years with benefit for both cancer and cardiovascular mortality, the top causes of death,” senior study author Dr. Samia Mora, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and pro-fessor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said in an email.

The Mediterranean diet features simple, plant-based cooking, with much of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra-virgin olive oil. Fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all, and sugar and refined foods should be avoided.

Red meat is used sparingly, usually only to flavor a dish. Eating healthy, oily fish, which are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, is encouraged, while eggs, dairy and poultry are eaten in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet.

person chopping vegetables

“In this study, adherence to the Mediterranean diet was a proxy for diet quality. Those who adhered most closely were eating more legumes, more vegetables, more fruits, less meat, and less processed meats,” said Dr. David Katz, a spe-cialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine who founded the nonprofit True Health Initiative, a global coalition of experts dedicated to evidence-based lifestyle medicine.

While the study was observational and thus could not show a direct cause and effect, “the finding is entirely consistent with many other studies of the now famously healthful Mediterranean diet,” said Katz, who was not involved in the re-search.

“We may be comfortable inferring that a high quality diet did, indeed, ‘cause’ a lower risk of death,” Katz said.

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

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