Mediterranean Diet to the Rescue - Again!

Mediterranean Diet to the Rescue - Again!

By Trudi Purdy, wlr team

Key Takeaways

  • Air pollution from fossil fuels adversely affects health – nothing new there

But,

  • A Mediterranean diet can help blunt some of the effects of air pollution on our health
  • And can reduce deaths from heart attacks and cardiovascular disease caused by air pollution

Many experts believe there is something very special about eating a Mediterranean diet and a new study has added yet more health benefits to this way of eating.

The Study

Researchers from NYU School of Medicine analysed data from a health and diet study conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The study followed 548,699 people over 17 years with an average age of 62 at enrolment.

The results showed that following a Mediterranean diet significantly reduced air pollution-mortality associations such as cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

In Detail

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruit and veg, wholegrains, legumes, olive oils, fish and poultry. There is very little red meat and processed foods on the menu.

Because of this, it is rich in antioxidants. These are molecules that combat oxidised and highly reactive molecules (free radicals) that we know cause cell and tissue damage.

There have even been studies showing a strong link between the Mediterranean diet and healthy ageing.

Researchers split the 548,699 people into five groups, based on how closely their diets adhered to a Mediterranean diet and estimates of long term exposure to air pollutants based on census information.

  • Fine Particular Matter – PM2.5
  • Nitrous Oxide – NO2
  • Ozone – O3

Findings

  • Deaths from all causes increased by 5 percent for every 10 parts per billion (ppb) increase in long-term average NO2 exposure in those least adherent, compared to 2 percent among the most adherent
  • Cardiovascular disease deaths increased by 17 percent for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) increase in long-term average PM2.5 exposure in those least adherent, compared to 5 percent among the most adherent
  • Cardiovascular disease deaths increased by 10 percent for every 10 ppb increase in NO2 exposure in those least adherent, compared to 2 percent among the most adherent
  • Heart attack deaths increased by 20 percent for every 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 exposure in those least adherent, compared to 5 percent among the most adherent
  • Heart attack deaths increased by 12 percent for every single ppb increase in NO2 exposure in those least adherent, compared to 4 percent among the most adherent
  • Following a Mediterranean diet doesn’t seem to have the same protective effects against O3 as deaths didn’t reduce in any of the groups

Chris Lim, one of the researchers, said,

'Previous studies have shown that dietary changes, particularly the addition of antioxidants, can blunt the adverse effects of exposure to high levels of air pollution over short time periods,'

He went on to say,

'What we did not know was whether diet can influence the association between long-term air pollution exposure and health effects.'

Senior study author, George Thurston ScD said,

'Adoption of a Mediterranean diet has the potential to reduce the effects of air pollution in a substantial population in the United States.'

Conclusion

The Mediterranean way seems to be the superhero of eating plans. Full of fresh fruit and veg, healthy oils, wholegrain foods, fish and poultry, not only can it help you get to grips with your weight but it seems to be healthy eating at its best.

And with the added benefit of protecting us from air pollution, as the study suggests, it seems a no brainer to look at adopting this way of eating.

Take a look at the delicious meals you could be tucking into if you decide to go the Mediterranean way.

Create Your Own Mediterranean Plan

You can create and calorie count your own Mediterranean plan using the tools in Weight Loss Resources. Keep an online food diary, set a weight loss goal and see how many calories you need to get there. Try it Free for 24 hours

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Air Pollution, Mediterranean Diet, and Cause-Specific Mortality Risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study

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