Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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With serious health conditions like heart disease and stroke lurking around every corner, there’s no clear-cut path to a long, healthy life. However, new research suggests that a certain diet could slash your risk of various longevity-threatening problems. What’s more, tucking into its staple dishes could remind you of your summer get-away.
If you ever holidayed by the Mediterranean Sea, you might have felt tempted to bring a bit of your stay back with you.
Whether you reached for olive oil or red wine, new research suggests that you might want to adopt more than just these two key ingredients from the Mediterranean diet.
The study, published in the journal Heart, found that the popular food regimen could slash the risk of early death by nearly a quarter in women.
The diet was shown to lower the chances of coronary heart disease by 25 percent and cardiovascular disease by 24 percent.
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Furthermore, the antioxidant-packed food protocol also reduced the risk of stroke and the risk of dying of any cause by 23 percent.
Built on nutritional powerhouses like wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, fish and virgin olive oil, the Mediterranean diet is rich in polyphenols, omega-3 fatty acids and fibre.
All of these components have been previously linked to various health benefits, including better heart health.
Furthermore, sticking to this diet also significantly lowers your intake of heart-damaging saturated fats such as butter, dairy and red meats.
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Looking at 16 reports published between 2003 and 2021, the research team trawled through various studies to assess the impact of the Mediterranean diet on women’s cardiovascular health and risk of death.
The studies involved more than 700,000 women aged 18 and above who were mainly from the US and Europe.
Their cardiovascular health was monitored for an average of 12.5 years.
Sticking closely to the healthy diet lowered their risk of a whole host of problems, ranging from cardiovascular disease to stroke.
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However, the reason why this diet is particularly beneficial for women remains unknown.
The study author Dr Sarah Zaman said: “Mechanisms explaining the sex-specific effect of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease and death remain unclear.
“Female-specific cardiovascular risk factors, including premature menopause, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, or female predominant risk factors, such as systemic lupus, can all independently increase cardiovascular disease risk.
“It is possible that preventative measures, such as the Mediterranean diet, that targets inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk factors, impose differing effects in women compared with men.”
Cardiovascular disease is currently responsible for more than a third of all deaths in women around the world.
However, many clinical trials and research include relatively few women and don’t often report results by sex.
The current guidelines on how to best lower cardiovascular disease also don’t differentiate by gender.
This new research calls for more sex-specific research to help guide clinical practice in heart health.
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