The Mediterranean diet has always had a great reputation for its protective effect on the heart, vessels, cognition, healthy weight and even sexual function.
Last week, its benefits have been further extended to include anti-aging benefits. The British Medical Journal published a study examining the link between the Mediterranean diet and aging.
In this study, the length of telomeres–the biomarkers for aging–was measured and correlated with diet. One of the theories about aging is the shortening of the telomeres. Telomeres are molecular structures located at the end of a chromosome. Shortening of these chromosome-protective structures has been linked to aging.
As telomeres get shorter, a person becomes less resilient to stress and disease with longer recovery time–all the symptoms of aging. The result of the study was the greater the adherence to the Mediterranean diet, the longer the telomeres and therefore the more gracefully a person ages.
The traditional Mediterranean diet is not hard to follow and very enjoyable on the palate. Authors of the study define it as consumption of a lot of “vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and grains (mainly unrefined); a high intake of olive oil but a low intake of saturated lipids; a moderately high intake of fish; a low intake of dairy products, meat, and poultry; and a regular but moderate intake of alcohol (specifically wine with meals).”
Researchers have concluded after many studies that a high degree of Mediterranean diet adherence had multiple health benefits including reduction of overall mortality, reduced incidence of chronic diseases, especially major cardiovascular diseases and increased likelihood of healthy aging.