A report published online on December 21, 2011 in the Journal of Nutrition reveals a protective effect for two healthy diets on mortality from any cause over a 14 year average follow-up period.
A team from Australia and the UK analyzed the diets of 972 participants in the British Diet and Nutrition Survey of men and women aged 65 and older upon enrollment from 1994-1995. Four day weighed food intake records were analyzed according to their adherence to the Healthy Diet Score, which rates the intake of saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fruit and vegetables, pulses and nuts, sugars, cholesterol, fish, red meat and meat products, and calcium; the Mediterranean diet, which includes vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, cereals, fish and seafood, a high monounsaturated to saturated fats ratio, dairy products, meat and meat products, and alcohol; and the Recommended Food Score which, according to the authors, "is a food-based score calculated based on the frequency of consumption of a range of foods considered to be consistent with existing dietary guidelines," including various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and reduced fat dairy products.
Having a higher Mediterranean Diet Score was associated with a 23 percent lower adjusted risk of dying over follow-up than having a low score, and a higher Recommended Food Score was associated with a 33 percent lower risk. No association was found for the Healthy Diet Score.
"The study shows that diet quality is an important predictor of longevity among older adults," Sarah A. McNaughton and her colleagues write. "With the ageing population worldwide, the role of diet quality in improving functional status and quality of life becomes increasingly important and further research is required on the role of diet in these aspects of ageing."
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