Mediterranean diet 'reduces risk of heart disease in women'

Adopting a Mediterranean diet may be the key to living a longer life.

Nutritionists have long advocated for adopting a diet consisting of a high intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

But according to a review of 16 published studies by researchers at the University of Sydney, abiding by the diet may be particularly beneficial for women, with those who followed the eating plan having a 24 per cent lower risk of heart disease and a 23 per cent lower risk of death.

"The Mediterranean diet is known for its health benefits, especially for heart health, but most studies and research into diet and heart disease are done primarily in men," said PhD candidate Anushriya Pant. "Now we have confirmed that similar benefits apply for women's dietary guidelines, and this reflects the strength of the Mediterranean diet for good heart health."

The studies involved over 722,000 female participants.

In light of the findings, Pant and her colleagues hope the information will be used to update dietary and clinical guideline recommendations, especially to help prevent heart disease.

"A healthy diet is a huge factor in preventing heart disease," added senior author, Associate Professor Sarah Zaman. "However, current guidelines on preventing heart disease lack sex-specific recommendations. Historically research trials and studies have had predominantly male participants, or lacked sex-specific analysis.

"Our results will pave the way to bridge this gap, and also highlights the need for more research to ensure health guidelines and policies include diverse perspectives."

Full results have been published in the Heart journal.