The Mediterranean diet consists of eating primarily fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish and poultry, replacing butter with healthy fats like olive oil and limiting red meat consumption.
Inspired by the recipes and food culture of the countries along the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean diet is a way to encourage people eat clean, healthy foods.
But now, a new study has found that the Mediterranean diet also helps protect seniors from becoming frail and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study was led by Kate Walters and Gotaro Kojima from University College London and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The results show that the Mediterranean diet could help maintain muscle strength and health in older adults.
Frailty is a common problem for senior citizens and can be linked to an increase in falls, fractures, dementia, disability, requiring hospitalization or even placement in a nursing home.
Walters and Kojima were curious to see how important nutrition and healthy eating are in reducing the risk of frailty.
The research team examined four studies that took place in France, Spain, Italy, and China and each showed some link between sticking to the Mediterranean diet and reducing the risk of frailty as people aged.
“We found the evidence was very consistent that older people who follow a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail,” said Walters. “People who followed a Mediterranean diet the most were overall less than half as likely to become frail over a nearly four-year period compared with those who followed it the least.”
The Mediterranean diet also promotes heart health, weight loss, and can help maintain muscle strength and energy.
Walters notes that because the study was only an analysis of previous research, further studies will need to be done to understand exactly to what extent the Mediterranean diet reduces frailty.