Why the Mediterranean Diet Helps

MediterraneanWhy Does the Mediterranean Diet Result in Longer Life?

We've all been hearing it for years: eat more like our Mediterranean cousins do (read that Greeks) and you'll live longer. Such a diet, dubbed the 'Mediterranean diet,' should include olive oil as the main oil consumed, lots of fruits and veggies, and wine, judiciously quaffed. But what exactly about this diet is most important in prolonging life? Investigators at Harvard took a stab at it and published their results this week.

Hands down, the biggest factor in prolonging overall survival was alcohol consumption. Moderate consumption, that is, not low or high, and almost always with meals. And of course we're already aware that the vehicle for this alcohol is almost always wine. In fact, just about a quarter of the survival benefit (23.5%) of the Mediterranean diet is accounted for by the wine.

Other factors in order of importance were low consumption of meat and meat products (16.6%), high vegetable consumption (16.2%) and high fruit and nut consumption (11.2%). The big surprise though, was the relative lack of benefit of eating fish, which the authors account for by revealing that this population just doesn't eat that much seafood, and a lack of benefit of cereals. Here they speculate that the category includes too many diverse products for analysis.

So what's the take home message? Even though it's tempting for us to dissect out the factors that seem to be most important (resveratrol in wine, for example), it's likely the combination that's most helpful. And Rick and I both agree that an extended Greek vacation (Paros, anyone?) would be welcome.

Other topics this week include Migraine Headache in Middle Age and Late-Life Brain Infarcts from JAMA, Frequency of Failure to Inform Patients of Clinically Significant Outpatient Test Results from Archives of Internal Medicine, and the best way to treat heart attacks involving total blockage of the blood vessels in this week's NEJM: Routine Early Angioplasty after Fibrinolysis for Acute Myocardial Infarction. Until next week, y'all live well.

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Josue March 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I love this post, I like researching information related to this, when I was in college did a study about it called angioplasty surgery, where I learned a lot about this subject

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Dayton March 2, 2012 at 12:33 pm

hmm I never paid attention but I think it can be claled silver.Our typical Turkish Cypriot restaurants serve about 15-20 types of cold meze, 3-4 types of hot meze, and different kinds of grilled meat/chicken (kebabs).The service usually starts with the waiters filling your table with small meze plates (meze=starters/appetizers).Then they serve you with warm pita bread. Then comes the hot mezes silver service. Finally the waiter begins to bring the main meal: shish kofte (ground beef on a flat skewer), sheftali kebab (typical Cypriot), lamb shish, chicken shish, lamb chop, grilled piece of chicken etc. These are brought to your plate one after the other, not all at once.Finally the plates are collected and a large fruit bowl is brought in the middle, with smalled individual plates so you can serve fruit yourself.

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