Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits May Last Longer Than You Think

Mediterranean Diet


Olives and olive oil

It seems like every time we turn around, we hear about a new way the Mediterranean diet is good for us. Filling up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, eating a moderate amount of fish and dairy and just a small amount of meat, sweets and unhealthy fats, and incorporating olive oil and the occasional glass of red wine is a recipe for  reducing the risk of heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and death due to heart disease or cancer. In the past few months alone, studies have concluded that the Mediterranean diet may lower the risk for  chronic kidney disease, diabetes and peripheral artery disease and can help r everse metabolic syndrome. And that’s just a small sampling of the research fast piling up in the diet’s favor.

Now comes evidence that switching to a Mediterranean diet may have s urprisingly sustained health benefits. After spending just eight weeks eating a Mediterranean-style diet and exercising more, participants in a study conducted by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Lincoln, in the U.K., showed improved blood flow in their endothelial cells, found within the inner lining of the blood vessels throughout their vascular system, a full year after halting their healthful regimens. The functional improvement of these endothelial cells could lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, researchers say.

But why the long-term improvement after only a short-term intervention? The researchers credit molecular changes associated with the Mediterranean diet. Another group of study participants who were assigned an eight-week exercise regime without the diet did not show the same long-term health improvement.

Dr. Markos Klonizakis, of Sheffield Hallam University, the lead researcher on the study, which looked at healthy people over age 50, called the findings "encouraging."

"Considering the scientific evidence already out there that a Mediterranean diet offers health benefits," he said, "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."

The takeaway? That olive-oil-drizzled salad, fresh fruit and whole-grain toast you eat today could help you tomorrow, too.

Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.

Next Up

How to Make Bananas Last Longer

Here's how to get the better of that bunch.

What Are the Health Benefits of Sorrel?

Sorrel, a less common leafy green, can be high in vitamins and minerals that may promote healthy digestion, eyesight and more.

What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds?

For one, they’re packed with protein.

The Benefits of Beans and Legumes for Heart Health

Research suggests that beans, peas and lentils can help lower your risk of heart disease.

4 Health Changes You May Notice If You Start Eating a More Plant-Based Diet

You don’t need to go full vegan to start seeing improvements in your gut health, for instance.

How to Store All the Fresh, Healthy Foods So They Last Longer

Correct storage strategy is key — here's how to put away produce and meat so it doesn't spoil quickly.

Why Eating a Plant-Forward Diet Is Better for Your Health

Getting more plants on your plate is the goal, but you don't have to eliminate animal products completely.

The Mediterranean Diet Can Be Beneficial During Pregnancy, Study Finds

For those who are or may become pregnant, the Mediterranean diet offers a food philosophy that brings unique benefits during this special time, according to research.

A Deep Dive Into Chai: Its History, Its Health Benefits and How to Prepare It

According to the founder of a small batch chai company.

The Key Food Moments You May Have Missed in The Last of Us

Everyone picked up on the cookies and cake, right?