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This cult-beloved diet could keep your bones strong as you age, research shows


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As our understanding of nutrition continues to evolve and deepen, buzzy diets also change to accommodate the knowledge updates. The hottest plans right now include the ketogenic and pegan diets, but a new study points to the stalwart Mediterranean diet—which has been connected to aiding longevity, reducing heart disease, and even lessening the risk of cancer—for providing even more health benefits. The recent research linked the diet to a positive impact on muscle mass and bone density for postmenopausal women, Science Daily reports.

Previous studies have found that menopause reduces women’s bone and muscle mass, so researchers aimed to discover whether the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet affected this demographic. The diet champions high doses of fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, and olive oil; moderate consumption of fish; and low intake of fat, dairy, and red meat.

The study found that women who adhered closely to the Mediterranean diet had higher bone density and muscle mass than those who didn’t. These results applied regardless of participants’ smoking behavior, physical activity, or whether they used hormone therapy in the past.

The study—presented today, March 19, at the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois—examined 103 women in Brazil who on average were 55 years old and had gone through menopause an average of five and a half years earlier. All participants were tested for bone mineral density, body fat, appendicular lean mass, and an estimated skeletal muscle mass; they were also tasked with filling out a questionnaire about their eating habits over the course of the previous month. Each woman also wore a pedometer for six days to test their physical activity.

Ultimately, the study found that women whose nutritional profile adhered most closely to the Mediterranean diet had higher bone density and muscle mass than women who didn’t. These results (of this admittedly small sample size) applied regardless of participants’ smoking behavior, physical activity, or whether they used hormone therapy in the past.

“We found that the Mediterranean diet could be a useful nonmedical strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women.” —Thais Rasia Silva, PhD, the lead study author

“We found that the Mediterranean diet could be a useful nonmedical strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women,” Thais Rasia Silva, PhD, the lead study author and a postdoctoral student at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, told Science Daily.

Sounds like the key to a healthy, long life is moving to the Mediterranean to most easily indulge in the diet of the region…at least that’s my interpretation of this nutrition-rich longevity news.

For other buzzy diets you might not have heard of yet, read about the keto light diet and the Japanese diet.

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