Mediterranean diet has ‘lasting’ health benefits, say researchers

Improvements in blood flow after an eight week Mediterranean diet intervention were still evident one year later, say researchers.

The health benefits of switching to a Mediterranean style diet and upping the amount of time spent exercising for a period of just eight weeks can still be seen a year after stopping the regime, according to a new study.

The findings, published in Microvascular Research, suggest that a combination of exercise and following the Mediterranean diet (MD) for just eight weeks leads to improved blood flow in cells in the inner lining of the blood vessels - called the endothelial cells – that can still be seen a full 12 months after completing participation in the intervention programme. 

The UK-based researchers behind the study believe the long-term health benefits observed after such a short intervention could be due to molecular changes associated with the Mediterranean diet. 

"Preserving a patient's endothelial function as they get older is thought to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, so these findings are very encouraging,” said lead researcher Dr Markos Klonizakis of Sheffield Hallam University.

“The original improvements from an 8-week exercise and MD intervention were still evident, particularly in the microcirculatory and cardiorespiratory assessments, 1 year after the initial study,” wrote the team. “This suggests that a brief intervention combining MD with exercise in this high-risk group promises long-term health benefits.”

Study details

The study focused on healthy people over the age of 50. Participants were originally assessed over an eight-week period. One group was encouraged to follow a Mediterranean style diet by eating more vegetables, fruit, olive oil, tree nuts and fresh oily fish, in addition to taking up a moderate exercise regime - while the other just took up exercise alone.

"Considering the scientific evidence already out there that a Mediterranean diet offers health benefits, it made sense to examine how such a diet, when combined with exercise, could affect the small veins of our body due to their important role in our overall well-being, in the longer-term,” said Klonizakis.

Indeed, the initial results confirmed that there were more health improvements in the Mediterranean diet group than the exercise only group alone.

However, even one year later these benefits were still evident - despite the lifestyle changes implemented during the study no longer being carefully followed.

"Even a medium-duration intervention with a Mediterranean diet and exercise regime can promise long-term health benefits, especially in people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” commented co-researcher Geoff Middleton from the University iof Lincoln.

Source: Microvascular Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2014.07.015
“Long-term effects of an exercise and Mediterranean diet intervention in the vascular function of an older, healthy population”
Authors: Markos Klonizakis, Ahmad Alkhatib, Geoff Middleton

Related News

Following a simple Mediterranean-style diet is more effective than counting calories, say leading UK doctors.

Forget calorie counting and start eating healthily, say UK healthcare leaders

Vegetarian, pescetarian and Mediterranean diets could cut per capita GHG emissions - and they are all better for health than conventional omnivorous diets

Mediterranean, vegetarian or pescetarian: Which is best for health and the environment?

Stronger adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomere length - with a one point change in diet score linked to 1.5 years of aging, say the researchers.

Mediterranean diet linked to increased telomere length

Switching to a Mediterranean-style diet could cut heart disease risk almost 50% according to a new study that followed more than 2,500 Greek adults for ten years.

Mediterranean diet could cut heart disease risk by nearly half

Both olive oil and vegetables are important dietary sources of phenols that are a staple of the Mediterranean diet - this research suggests combining the two can boost the health benefits even more. © iStock.

A fat lot of good: Vegetables deep-fried in olive oil are healthier than boiled or raw

Olive oil, a principle ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, is considered a key component of a healthy dietary pattern.©iStock

Live long & prosper: Med diet credited with lengthening life span: Study

Typical components of a Mediterranean diet include cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes and olive oil. ©iStock

Successful UK adoption of Mediterranean diet key to CVD reduction: Study

© iStock/Klenova

Mediterranean diet faces triple threat: FAO

More fruits, fish and wine could stop your brain shrinking ©iStock

Mediterranean diet linked to increased brain volume, say scientists

A clear pattern was established in the study. Eating more fish and plant-based proteins such as nuts and beans was linked with less pain, regardless of body weight.©iStock

Obesity-related pain eased by foods found in the Mediterranean diet: Study

©iStock

Mediterranean diet benefits reserved for the rich, Italian study says

Over one-quarter of participants 'reversed' metabolic syndrome symptoms after consuming a Mediterranean diet including nuts or olive oil

Med diet may reverse metabolic syndrome – but not prevent it

“At this stage, the current evidence is not sufficient or strong enough to support the use of vitamin and mineral supplementation to improve health in the elderly.”

EC: Micronutrient supplementation for elderly not backed (for now)

The Mediterranean dietary pattern could help children prevent obesity, but not many children in Mediterranean countries follow such a diet, say researchers.

Mediterranean diet is associated with lower weight in children but has become less common, says study

The European Common Fisheries Policy has helped Atlantic fish stocks but failed in the Mediterranean, say experts.

Mediterranean fish stocks show steady decline

Related Products

See more related products

Comments (1)

João Madureira - 16 Nov 2014 | 10:38

Reduction of intake of meat and fish

As a vegetarian and a natural of a mediterranean country, I want to remind the readers that one of the characteristics of the mediterranean diet is a substantial reduction of the ingestion of animal protein - particularly red meat but also fish. I know people who grew up in the countryside 60 years ago that tell me their diet was almost vegetarian - on most days they ate legumes, sometimes they ate cheese and other animal byproducts and the days they ate actual animal meat were quite rare.

16-Nov-2014 at 22:38 GMT

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.