Research suggests that adopting a Mediterranean way of life can contribute to enhanced longevity and improved health.

Individuals who embrace aspects of a Mediterranean routine – such as social interactions, sufficient rest, physical exercise, and a diet abundant in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, whilst minimising sugar and salt – face fewer risks of premature death and cancer.

Furthermore, individuals who prioritise relaxation, physical activity, and socialising with friends are at a reduced risk of heart attack or stroke.

This research analysed data from 110,799 participants in the UK Biobank project.

These individuals, aged between 45 to 70 and originating from different parts of the UK, provided comprehensive information about their dietary and lifestyle habits.

The study, led by scholars from La Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, examined the consumption patterns of Mediterranean foods, dietary habits such as limiting salt intake and opting for healthier drinks, and other lifestyle practices including regular naps, exercise, and socialising.

A higher score in these categories signified that the participant closely followed the Mediterranean way of life, as stated by the researchers.

The health of these participants was observed for almost a decade.

During the study, 4,247 of the participants passed away, with 2,401 due to cancer and 731 due to cardiovascular diseases, encompassing heart attacks and strokes.

Published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, the findings highlighted that those who adopted the Mediterranean lifestyle had a 29% lower mortality risk than those who did not. There was also a 28% reduced risk of dying from cancer.

Furthermore, those who maintained regular relaxation, physical activity, and social interactions had a diminished risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.

What is a Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a nutritional and lifestyle approach inspired by the traditional dietary and lifestyle patterns of countries adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea including Spain, France and Italy.

The diet has a high intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, and emphasises healthy fats such as olive oil, prioritises fish, and poultry. The lifestyle permits moderate wine consumption, and encourages regular physical activity and an emphasis on communal meals with family and friends.

A growing body of research demonstrates the positive benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Lead researcher, Mercedes Sotos Prieto, associated with both La Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and Harvard Chan School, noted, “It’s feasible for communities outside the Mediterranean to adopt its diet using local produce and to assimilate the Mediterranean lifestyle within their cultural backdrop.”

Prieto underscored the versatility of this lifestyle and the resulting health advantages.

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