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Mediterranean Diet May Lead To Longer Life By Protecting Telomeres

The Mediterranean diet is based on the diets of people who live in the Mediterranean part of the world. It contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains but low levels of meats and saturated fats. A recent study suggests that following a Mediterranean diet may help people live longer by preventing damage to telomeres.

Telomeres are the protective “cap” on the end of chromosomes that protect them from unraveling. Damaged telomeres equal damaged DNA, which as been linked with shorter lifespans.

Participants in the study included 4,676 healthy women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study, which started in 1976. The researchers used detailed food questionnaires to determine where on a scare of 0 to 9 points the women fell in terms of adherence to the Mediterranean diet. They also conducted blood tests to determine telomere length.

After examining the data, the researchers found that each one point change in diet score was associated with an average 1.5 years of telomere aging.

The researchers believe that these benefits can be credited to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities of the Mediterranean diet.

Researchers from Brigham and Young Women’s College and Harvard University conducted the study. It was published on December 2, 2014, in BMJ.

Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean diet may improve heart health, lower the risk of diabetes, asthma, lower rates of obesity and even decrease the overall risk of mortality.

The key components of the Mediterranean diet are eating primarily plant-based foods, replacing butter with olive oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt, eating red meat no more than a few times a month, eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.

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