The Washington Post

Mediterranean-diet-style eating may improve health in later life

Fish and vegetables are parts of the Mediterranean-style diet. (ISTOCKPHOTO)
Mediterranean-style eating seems to improve health in later life

THE QUESTION Do midlife eating habits affect how healthy people will be as they age?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 10,670 women, most in their late 50s and generally healthy. Over the next 15 years, their mental and physical functioning and dietary patterns were assessed periodically. Those whose diets most resembled Mediterranean-style eating — more plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables and nuts), whole grains and fish, less red and processed meats, and moderate amounts of alcohol — had about a 40 percent greater chance of living beyond age 70 and doing so healthily than those whose diets were least like the Mediterranean. Aging healthily meant having no major chronic diseases, no physical disabilities and no cognitive impairment.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People of middle age, especially women. A Mediterranean-style diet, so-named for the region where it has been the dominant eating pattern for centuries, has been shown to improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels, protect against heart disease and possibly lower risk for cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

CAVEATS Dietary data came from the women’s responses on periodic questionnaires. Most of the women were white; whether the findings apply to other races or to men remains unclear.

FIND THIS STUDY Nov. 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

LEARN MORE ABOUT the Mediterranean diet at

Learn about healthy aging at

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Be a man and cry
Program turns prisoners into poets
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
Play Videos
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
The most interesting woman you've never heard of
Play Videos
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
The art of tortilla-making
A man committed to journalism, caught in the crossfire
Play Videos
Tips for (relatively) stress-free dining out with kids
How to get organized for back to school
How the new credit card chip makes purchases more secure

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.