The study – published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition –investigated the influence of the Mediterranean diet, which is characterised by the consumption of fruit, vegetables, pulses, fish, olive oil and nuts, on the quality of life of a sample of more than 11,000 university students over a period of four years.
The team of Spanish researchers noted that whilst the diet has been associated with a reduction in the risk of certain illness, and increased well-being, their new study shows it is also linked to mental and physical health.
“Adherence to the Mediterranean diet seems to be a factor importantly associated with a better health-related quality of life,” said the researchers, who were led by Patricia Henríquez Sánchez from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
"The progressive aging of the population in developed countries makes it even more interesting to find out those factors that can increase quality of life and the health of the population," added Henríquez Sánchez.
Health and wellness
The Mediterranean diet is rich in cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil. Although is the traditional diet of the Mediterranean region, it has garnered interest all over the world in recent times as a scientific spotlight has been trained on the health benefits it can confer.
For instance, recent research has indicated that the diet may have benefits for arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, hearth health and blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, lung disease, and allergies.
Thanks to this global reputation the food industry has adopted some of its principals to assist in marketing of healthy foods.
The new study investigated whether the adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with mental and physical health related to quality of life over a four year period – as part of the SUN Project.
Dietary intake data for 11,015 participants was taken at the beginning of the study and self-perceived quality of life was measured after the four year monitoring period.
The results revealed that those who followed the Mediterranean diet more scored highere on the quality of life questionnaire in terms of physical and mental well-being.
“Multivariate-adjusted models revealed a significant direct association between adherence to Mediterranean diet and all the physical and most mental health domains (vitality, social functioning and role emotional),” wrote the authors.
Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume 66, Pages 360-368, doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.146
“Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and quality of life in the SUN Project”
Authors: P Henríquez Sánchez, C Ruano, J de Irala, M Ruiz-Canela, M A Martínez-González and A Sánchez-Villegas