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New Discoveries about the World's Healthiest Foods: A Healthy Way of Eating—Key for Healthy Aging

A healthy old age may be largely within your control. When researchers in the Netherlands investigated lifestyle factors and risk of death in the elderly across Europe, they found that those eating a Mediterranean type diet-the healthy way of eating espoused by the World's Healthiest Foods&mdash, lowered their risk of death from all causes by 23%.

The research team, whose results were published in the September 2004 issue of JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), analyzed data from the HALE (Healthy Aging: a Longitudinal Study in Europe) survey, conducted from 1988 to 2000 and involving 1,507 men and 832 women aged 70 to 90 years, from 11 European countries.

In addition to eating a Mediterranean diet (a diet rich in plant foods and fish, low in meat and dairy products, with a high ratio of the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil to the polyunsaturated fats found in most other vegetable oils), protection was also afforded by physical activity, not smoking and moderate alcohol consumption.

Physically active elders lowered their risk of death from all causes by 37%. Not smoking decreased risk by 35%, and moderate alcohol consumption lowered risk 22%. Among those whose lifestyles followed all four risk lowering factors, risk of death from all causes was lowered a whopping 65%!

Reference:

Knoops KT, de Groot LC, Kromhout D, Perrin AE, Moreiras-Varela O, Menotti A, van Staveren WA. Mediterranean diet, lifestyle factors, and 10-year mortality in elderly European men and women: the HALE project. JAMA. 2004 Sep 22;292(12):1433-9.

PMID: 15383513