Watch CBS News

Mediterranean diet associated with 23% reduction in mortality, study finds

A closer look at the Mediterranean diet
A closer look at the Mediterranean diet 04:00

The Mediterranean diet has long been regarded as a heart-healthy option, but a new study has found the diet may help lower the risk of death.

For the study, published in JAMA Network Open Friday, researchers examined 25,315 women over 25 years, finding a higher adherence to the diet was associated with a 23% reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Decreased risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality were also noted.

A Mediterranean diet, patterned on the traditional cuisines of the region, emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts and whole grains.

Researchers collected baseline health information from the participants between 1993 and 1996, which included data on 33 blood biomarkers, self-reported weight, lifestyle and more. The participants, who were all female health care professionals with a mean age of 54.6, then completed health questionnaires every six months during the first year and then annually. Data analysis occurred from 2018 to 2023, using medical and death records to determine mortality and cause of death.

"Participants with higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet generally exhibited healthier lifestyles, including lower BMI and higher intake of fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and fish, while consuming less red and processed meat," the authors note. "A higher Mediterranean diet score was associated with an overall healthier biomarker profile."

This isn't the first time research has pointed to the diet as a healthy way of eating. A study last year found the diet could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in women by 24%, though it was a meta-analysis of that looked at 16 prior studies.

The latest study did have some limitations, however, including a lack of racial and ethnic diversity. Participants were middle aged and older, well-educated females who were predominantly (just over 94%) self-reported as white. This may limit the generalizability of the findings, the authors note. 

Dietary adherence was also assessed through food questionnaires, which could have contained misclassifications. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.