We’ve been talking about the many science-based evidence on how adherence to Mediterranean diet is beneficial to your health. Well, maybe now is the time to list all of those scientific studies that says the Mediterranean diet is the best diet in the world – all in one blog post.
If you’ve read most or all of our blog posts, then you know that our reverence for the Mediterranean diet is akin to that of the ancient Romans and Greeks who worship their gods and goddesses. Yep! We think people should hold the Mediterranean diet in the same vein as their religion, except this one truly pays off when you put your faith in it. Adherence to Mediterranean diet will get you far in life – say uhm…about a century maybe? No, we’re not kidding. You could go to the villages of Crete and Southern Italy right now and you’ll find elderly people who are in the age range of 90 – 110 years old!
Let’s Hear from the Experts
If you doubt the validity of the information about the Mediterranean diet that we or other sources proliferate on the web, then it is your God-given right to question everything and not take things at face value. So this time, we’ll let the experts speak for themselves.
Here are 7 scientific studies (with citations and peer review) regarding the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet:
1.) Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Mortality Rate
Perhaps we should start with the most obvious question of all – why do Mediterranean people live an unusually long life? Well, these studies will blow the lid of this long time secret and will also blow your mind! Based on the publications in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (the research that covered a cohort of studies between 1966 and June 2008 were published in English and non-English journals).
The cohort analyzed 12 studies, with a total of 1,574,299 test subjects followed for a time ranging from 3 to 18 years of age. The goal of the research is to determine the link between adherence to Mediterranean diet, mortality, and incidence of diseases. The results showed that there’s a 9% chance of reduced risk of mortality in relation to adherence to Mediterranean diet. The same percentage was calculated when it came to deaths from CVD (cardiovascular diseases) and a 6% chance of reduced risk of death resulting from cancers. Furthermore, there’s also a 13% chance of reduced risks for incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
2.) Hydroxytyrosol Protects from Aging Process
There’s also a study about the link between hydroxytyrosol and cancer, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, immune-mediated and neurodegenerative diseases. The illnesses mentioned above have their roots from the oxidative and inflammatory reactions in the human body, which is the result of aging process. All over the world scientists are in constant search for ways and methods to increase people’s life expectancy, but in countries where people have a greater adherence to Mediterranean diet life expectancy will have the highest average by 2040.
One of the reasons why they have a high life expectancy average is due to their consumption of olives and olive oil. It turns out olives and olive oil contains between 50-200 mg/kg of hydroxytyrosol. Hydroxytyrosol is a phenylethanoid, a type of phenolic phytochemical with antioxidant properties in vitro. Lately scientists took interest in this chemical compound for its multiple pharmacological activities, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic activities. They believe that it can be used for the development of new anti-aging strategies.
3.) Diabetes and the Mediterranean Diet
A new study discovered that oleic acid may have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, adipocyte glucose transport and endothelium‐dependent vasoreactivity. Oleic acid is the main monounsaturated fatty acid present in olive oil and nuts, two key bioactive foods in the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown in studies to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Currently there are about 34.2 million Americans have diabetes which translates to 1 in every 10 Americans are diabetic.
Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis (the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls). Because of this, diabetic patients are also at a high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and some other health complications. According to a new study there may be an inverse relationship between blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. Researchers discovered that their research are 2 sides of the same coin, where one side shows a physiological association between skin microvascular function, while the other side revealed insulin sensitivity and blood pressure. Furthermore, the impairment in vascular reactivity has something to do with oxidized and glycoxidized low‐density lipoprotein (LDL) in diabetes.
However, once oleic acid is introduced into the blood stream, the diabetic patient experiences bodily changes, whereby his body shows improvement in terms of insulin sensitivity and/or resistance. This clearly shows that adherence to Mediterranean diet is very beneficial to diabetic patients and may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
4.) Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Prediction of Incident Stroke
About 795,000 people in the United States suffer from stroke each year and while the causes of blood clots – which is the precursor of strokes – is due to several factors according to this blog post, the root of the problem lies in the person’s diet and general lifestyle. The average life expectancy in NCR (National Capital Region), Philippines is around 50 years old (the general average life expectancy in the entire Philippines is actually 71.41 years, but most of the people surveyed are not from NCR). Compare that to the average life expectancy in Italy, Spain and Greece which is around 83+ years (with some actually reaching the age of 100 and are still living an active lifestyle).
The reason why people from NCR have shorter lifespans is due to their unhealthy diet and unhealthy environment. They’re always busy with work, are over stressed from the fast-pace work environment, rampant criminal activity and not having or making time for exercise. All the while, the people in the Mediterranean region live active lifestyles and enjoy very healthy meals. All these health benefits is due to their adherence to Mediterranean diet and it should be obvious at this point that we all must also follow the Mediterranean diet like the people in the Mediterranean Basin do.
Moreover, the study revealed that the overall mortality, cardiovascular mortality, incidence of or mortality from neoplastic disease, and incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease with test subjects following the Mediterranean diet had significantly lower risk.
Recommended Reading: 10 Kitchen Tools You’ll Need If You Want To Try The Mediterranean Diet
5.) Mediterranean Diet and Incidence of Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Dry macular degeneration is a common eye disorder among people over 50. It causes blurred or reduced central vision, due to thinning of the macula and the older people get with this degenerative disease, the worse it gets. Not everyone with early AMD will develop advanced AMD, and those who develop an advanced form of the disease do not develop total blindness. However, the loss of central vision can significantly interfere with everyday activities, such as driving or reading.
A prospective cohort study of the Rotterdam Study I (RS-I) and the Antioxydants, Lipides Essentiels, Nutrition et Maladies Oculaires (Alienor) Study observed 2 different European populations with regards to AMD. They reviewed 4,446 cases in The Netherlands with patients of about 55 years of age, and 550 French adults 73 years of age or older. Of the total number of participants (4,996), 155 of them showed advanced incident AMD, while those that had high MeDi (Mediterranean Diet) score between 6 – 9 points had promising lab test results. They actually had a significantly reduced risk for incident advanced AMD compared to the other patients who only had 0 – 3 MeDi scores.
6.) Mediterranean Diet and its Association with Reduced Invasive Breast Cancer Risk
In 2020, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and there have been 685,000 deaths globally. By the end of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed 7.8 million women who are still alive, but were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer.
Researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer. However, there are cases where people who have no risk factors develop cancer, and inversely some people that do have risk factors don’t – scientists have not been able to determine this as of yet. It’s likely that breast cancer is caused by a complex interaction of your genetic makeup and your environment. One of these complex interactions could be your diet and lifestyle.
A 2014 observational study pit the standard Westernized diet against the Mediterranean diet and found that people who have a greater adherence to Mediterranean diet had a 56% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who follow the Westernized diet. This study partially proves that by simply calibrating your diet with a healthy one like the Mediterranean diet, you help prevent developing breast cancer. Women should be made aware of this fact, as they are the most vulnerable to this kind of disease.
7.) The Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Cognitive Impairment
Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life. Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to severe. Cognitive impairment is often caused by an age-related degenerative disease that can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is especially true if the person has no proper diet and exercise. As the body gets older it has trouble replicating new brain cells called neurons and it also limits new connections of the brain’s neural network. Sometimes it can even break down old ones which affects the person’s cognitive functions.
A new study suggests that adherence to Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and slow the rate of cognitive decline at a population level. The University of Arizona published a research recently about the variety of health benefits that the Mediterranean diet have. Among them include a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, breast and bowel cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers discovered that the Omega-3 fatty acids which is found in the fish types that the Mediterranean diet recommends can help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment, as well as slower general cognitive decline.