• Sticking to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a decreased risk of mortality, according to a new study.
  • The Mediterranean diet helps lower cardiometabolic risk factors, such as insulin resistance, BMI and blood pressure.
  • The diet includes high amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. 

A new study showed higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was linked with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

The findings were published in JAMA Network OpenTrusted Source on May 31. 

Researchers  looked at health information from 25,315 women, which included blood  samples, biomarker measurements, and dietary data between 1993 and 1996.  These women were followed up for 25 years.

Results showed a 23%  decrease in all-cause mortality risk, which may be partially explained  by cardiometabolic risk factors. These include biomarkers of  inflammation, insulin resistance, metabolism, and body mass index (BMI).

Health benefits of the Mediterranean diet

“When  it comes to cardiovascular disease there are various risk factors which  are modifiable – meaning we have control over them,” said Nicole Roach, a registered dietitian at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital. “Diet is a major modifiable risk favor.”

To  address cardiovascular disease, often times the Mediterranean diet will  be recommended. There are several benefits to following a Mediterranean  diet. 

  • Lowering “bad cholesterol.” The Mediterranean diet avoids food rich in saturated fat, this can help lower our LDL Cholesterol, often known as “Bad Cholesterol.”
  • A Mediterranean diet can also help raise our “Good Cholesterol,” otherwise known as HDL.
  • This  diet may promote weight loss by encouraging healthier, more nutritious  food choices. However, it can also help maintain a healthy weight if you  are not looking to lose weight.
  • This diet may help lower blood pressure by avoiding processed foods, which often contain high sodium levels due to added salt.
  • Following a Mediterranean diet can also help increase fiber intake as this diet is rich in whole fruits and vegetables. Fiber supports  bowel movements and gut health, helps maintain blood sugars within  targeted goals, and helps promote satiety, which can aid in weight loss  or maintenance.
  • Choosing foods known to have anti-inflammatory properties may help decrease overall inflammation within the body. Decreased  inflammation is beneficial to the heart and reduces the risk for various  types of cancer.
  • May be helpful for mood, cognitive function, and healthy brain aging.

“All  of the above benefits of a Mediterranean diet can result in improved  heart health as well as improved over all health,” Roach stated. 

This  study suggested that the diet helped reduce: inflammation,  triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, insulin resistance, and body mass index.  These factors likely contributed to why people with higher adherence to  this diet had lower mortality risk. 

Mediterranean diet and decreased risk of all-cause mortality

The blood metabolites measured explained some of the effects of the Mediterranean diet on mortality.

“This  included having lower molecules that are involved in inflammation and  lipids that cause deposits in arteries that can lead to heart disease,” Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge,  associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University  Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, stated. “Lower blood  pressure and better glucose control also contribute to the reduced risk  of mortality.”

John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist at UTHealth Houston, agreed.

“Improved  cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood  glucose) as well as improved vascular function, improved coagulation  profile, and less chance of an angry plaque (lower inflammatory markers)  would result in lower rates of cardiovascular events (heart attack,  stroke, peripheral arterial disease),” Higgins said.

In the  current study, researchers found that improvements in measures of blood  pressure, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and blood glucose control, such as  hemoglobin A1C, were not as strongly associated with reduced mortality  risk from adherence to the Mediterranean diet as some other biomarkers.  However, they did acknowledge that previous studies have reported such  associations.

More specifically, the researchers found biomarkers  of metabolism and inflammation, triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, insulin  resistance, and body mass index may contribute the most to the reduced  mortality risk associated with the Mediterranean diet.

“The  Mediterranean diet is rich in many nutrients and dietary components like  polyphenols, that have anti-inflammatory properties,” said St-Onge. “It  is high in fiber and low in sugar, which contribute to better glucose control, and is  low in saturated [fat] while being higher in monounsaturated fat, which  are known to produce [a] better lipid profile with lower LDL cholesterol  and triglycerides and higher HDL cholesterol.”

The foundations of the Mediterranean diet include fatty fish, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, legumes, vegetables and fruit. 

Julia  Zumpano a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic Center for  Human Nutrition, said foods high in omega 3 fatty acids such as certain  fish, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds when combined with foods that reduce inflammation, such as legumes,  fruits and vegetables, “have been shown to reduce blood sugars, reduce  insulin, improve gut health and regularity.” 

Zumpano recommends  eating grains that are whole grains, in addition to minimally processed  foods. Zumpano recommends avoiding commercial baked goods,  sugar-sweetened beverages or processed meats, which have been shown to  increase inflammation, blood sugars, triglycerides, weight and risk of  chronic diseases.


A new study found that sticking to the Mediterranean diet was linked with a decreased risk of all-cause mortality in women.

The Mediterranean diet may help reduce cardiometabolic risk factors, such as insulin resistance, BMI, and inflammation.

There are other factors that need to be taken into consideration which are family history, exercise habits and lifestyle.