(HealthDay News) — Adhering to the Mediterranean diet appears to be associated with longer telomere length, an indicator of slower aging, according to research published in The BMJ.
The new study was led by Immaculata De Vivo, PhD, MPH, an associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Her team looked at data from 4,676 disease-free women in the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study, which has been tracking the health of U.S. nurses since 1976.
The participants were given a score of 0 to 9 on how closely they followed a Mediterranean diet, with a higher score indicating greater adherence to the regimen.
After adjusting for other factors, the researchers concluded that telomeres aged more slowly for every point a person went up on the scale. However, according to De Vivo’s team, the intake of individual food items in the Mediterranean diet was not associated with telomere length, which shows the importance of overall eating patterns on health.
“To our knowledge, this is the largest population-based study specifically addressing the association between Mediterranean diet adherence and telomere length in healthy, middle-aged women,” the researchers wrote. “Our results further support the benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet for promoting health and longevity.”