Women are 23% less at risk of death if they follow a Mediterranean diet, a new study has revealed.

Researchers from Harvard University have found that a diet rich in nuts, fish, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains is associated with a lower mortality risk among women.

More than 25,000 healthy middle-aged women took part in the 25-year-long study and were questioned about their diets.

Previous studies have found that the Mediterranean diet can improve the body’s regulation of insulin and reduce inflammation in the body.

Additionally, those following the Mediterranean diet are more likely to be in better control of their weight compared to those on another diet.

According to the study, the Mediterranean diet is popular among people living in Italy, Spain and Greece.

During the study, the participants were given a score from zero to nine based on their adherence to the mediterranean diet, with those following the diet closely scoring higher than those not following it closely.

A total of 3,879 people had died during the study, including 1,531 from cancer and 935 from heart disease.

“Our results suggest that a proportion of the lower risk of mortality may be accounted for by several cardiometabolic risk factors, in particular, biomarkers related to metabolism, inflammation, TRL pathways, insulin resistance, and BMI,” said the researchers.

They continued: “Most of the potential benefit of adherence to the Mediterranean diet and mortality remains unexplained, and future studies should examine other pathways that could potentially mediate the Mediterranean diet–associated lower mortality as well as examine cause-specific mortality.”

Read the study in full in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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