Does diet matter for survival in long-lived cultures?

Published in APJCN, vol 14, issue 1 2005. Authors: Wahlqvist M, Darmadi-Blackberry I, Kouris-Blazos A, Jolley D, Steen B, Lukito W, Horie Y.

This interesting study set out to determine if diet is important for longevity in 5 long-lived cultures.
The study was called "Food Habits in Later Life" and was coordinated by HECs Professor Mark Wahlqvist and Dr Antigone Kouris-Blazos at Monash University (the descriptive data is availabe on CD rom more...)

Between 1988 and 1991 data were collected on diet, health and lifetsyle on about 800 people aged 70 and over from countries/cultures experiencing longevity: Swedes, Greeks, Australians (Greeks and Anglo-Celts) and Japanese. They were followed up for 5-7 years to determine survival.

Much to the surprise of the investigators, the elderly Greeks in Australia had the lowest risk of death (even though they had the highest rates of obesity and other CVD risk factors), followed by the slimmer and more athletic elderly Swedes, Japanese, Anglo-Australians and the elderly Greeks in Greece had the highest risk of death.

The statistical analyses containing ten potential predictors of survival (mediterranean diet score, memory score, general health score, activities of daily living (ADL) score, exercise score,social activity score, social networks scores, wellbeing, smoking, gender) revealed that diet was one of the most important variables for survival.

Diet was more important than most of the variables for survival, except for smoking, being male and having a poor memory. Elderly people in this study who had a more 'mediterranean style' eating pattern i.e high intakes of plant foods (cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits and nuts), low intakes of animal foods (meat, milk and dairy products) and moderate fish and alcohol consumption had a reduced risk of death by more than 40%. Read the abstract more... or full paper more......

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal 2005 by our colleague Professor Trichopoulou once again proves not only the longevity benefits of the mediterranean food pattern (using our original score published in the BMJ in 1995) but that these benefits can also be experienced by non-mediterranean people. more....

Also, a study published by our past PhD student at Monash University (Dr Irene Darmadi-Blackberry) showed that the legume food group in the mediterranean diet score conferred the greatest impact on longevity in comparison to the other food groups in older Greeks, Swedes, Japanese and Anglo-Celts.
So try to have a legume based meal at least once a week - see our recipes!