Research has found that women who follow a predominantly plant-based Mediterranean diet have a 23 per cent lower risk of premature death. The study tracked over 25,000 women in the US for up to 25 years and revealed that sticking to this diet can lower cholesterol, reduce obesity, and decrease insulin resistance, all of which are known risk factors for metabolic disorders such as diabetes and heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet emphasises the consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Meals are typically prepared using olive oil and include moderate amounts of fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs, while red meat and sweets are seldom eaten. In a study involving women, following this dietary pattern was associated with a reduced risk of death from cancer. These results were reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"Our research provides significant public health insight: even modest changes in established risk factors for metabolic diseases can yield substantial long-term benefits from following a Mediterranean diet. This finding underscores the potential of encouraging healthier dietary habits to reduce the overall risk of mortality," said lead author Shafqat Ahmad, a researcher at the Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, US.

The study involved women who were at least

45 years old at the beginning of the Women's Health Study. They completed surveys and shared details about their weight, height, body mass index, as well as information about their lifestyle, medical history, and social background. Additionally, their blood pressure was measured.

To comprehend the potential biological processes that could account for the health advantages of the diet, the scientists evaluated more than 30 indicators of metabolism and inflammation, encompassing lipids and insulin resistance.

"In this large-scale cohort study of 25,315 initially healthy US women who were followed up for 25 years, we observed that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 23 per cent relative risk reduction in all-cause mortality," the authors wrote.

The researchers acknowledged that the study was limited to middle-aged and older well-educated female health professionals who were predominantly non-Hispanic and white. However, the study's strengths included its large sample size and long follow-up duration, they said.

"The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are recognised by medical professionals, and our study offers insights into why the diet may be so beneficial," said senior author Samia Mora, a cardiologist and the director of the Center for Lipid Metabolomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital.
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