Eating a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Researchers assessed conformity with the Mediterranean diet in 380,296 of the participants of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, with no history of chronic disease. Components of the diet included vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, alcohol and meat, and a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats. During five years of follow-up, 12,105 participants died, including 5,985 from cancer and 3,451 from cardiovascular disease. Those with higher Mediterranean diet scores were less likely to die of any cause or of cancer or heart disease. (Mediterranean dietary pattern and prediction of all-cause mortality in a US population: results from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Dec 10;167(22):2461-8). In a further study, the results of two questionnaires on physical activity from 252,925 of the participants were analysed. Of those, 7,900 died during follow-up. Compared with being inactive, individuals who performed the amount of moderate physical activity recommended in American national guidelines (at least 30 minutes most days of the week) were 27% less likely to die, while those who achieved the goal for vigorous physical activity (at least 20 minutes three times per week) were 32% less likely to die. (Physical activity recommendations and decreased risk of mortality. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Dec 10;167(22):2453-60).