Eating a Mediterranean diet and following nationally recommended physical activity are associated with a reduced risk of death over 5 years, according to two reports in Archives of Internal Medicine . Data provided by the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study was used in both studies, when 566,407 AARP members aged 50 to 71 returned questionnaires between 1995 and 1996.
A nine-point scale to measure conformity with the Mediterranean diet was used by Panagiota N. Mitrou, Ph.D and colleagues in 380,296 of the participants (214,284 men and 166,012 women) with no history of chronic disease. The diet included vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, ratio of monounsaturated fats, alcohol and meat. In the 5 years following, 12,105 sample members died, with 5,985 dying of cancer and 3,451 dying of cardiovascular disease. People with higher Mediterranean diet scores were less likely to die of any cause, or of cancer or heart disease.
The second study, supervised by Michael F. Leitzmann, M.D. Dr.P.H., of the National Cancer Institute, analyzed data provided by two questionnaires on physical activity from 252,925 participants (142,828 men and 110,097 women). 7,900 people died. The people who performed physical activity at least 30 minutes most days of the week (the amount of physical activity recommended in national guidelines) were 27% less likely to die. Those who performed vigorous physical activity recommended under the same guidelines (at least 20 minutes three times weekly) were 32% less likely to die. Lesser amounts of physical activity were associated with a 19% reduced risk of death.
Source: Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(22):2461-2468 and 2453-2460.