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Mediterranean diet study - certain components extend life


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#1 tunt01

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 04:50 PM


http://www.healthday....asp?AID=628377

Extra Helpings of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
Not all items on the Mediterranean diet are equally beneficial, study shows


WEDNESDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- Some components of a Mediterranean diet may be more vital to good health than others, a new report suggests.

A study from researchers at the University of Athens Medical School links longer life to consuming large quantities of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and olive oil, keeping alcohol intake moderate and avoiding too much meat. Meanwhile, eating lots of fish or seafood and going light on dairy products does not seem to increase longevity.

The authors of the study, which examined the eating habits of more than 23,000 Greeks over nearly a decade, said many of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet were negated when their analysis removed heavy vegetable consumption, light meat intake or moderate drinking. Combining several components, such as having a diet rich in vegetables and olive oil, showed health benefits.

Following a Mediterranean diet, so-called because it is based on the traditional eating habits of those in that region of the world, has been shown to improve health and help people live longer in several studies, but this report -- appearing June 23 in the online edition of BMJ -- analyzes the main components of the diet.

#2 tunt01

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 05:24 PM

Study link: http://www.bmj.com/c...8/jun23_2/b2337

Mortality Ratio Score: Removal of one component of the Mediterranean diet and its effect

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Mortality Ratio Score: Successive removal of each component of the Mediterranean diet
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bring on the methionine restriction debate...

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#3 tunt01

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 05:31 PM

i dont get how removing vegetables from the Med. diet is nearly as effective as removing red meat for the purposes of reducing mortality. wonder how credible the data is...

#4 EmbraceUnity

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 08:53 PM

i dont get how removing vegetables from the Med. diet is nearly as effective as removing red meat for the purposes of reducing mortality. wonder how credible the data is...


It says it is after successive removal. Removing vegetables did not extend life, but removing meat did.

#5 tunt01

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 09:58 PM

partially so. in the 2nd study it kind of indicates that, but the P-value deteriorates pretty significantly. the researchers also selectively choose which order they removed components of the diet. they didn't go ethanol -> veggies --> meat for a reason.

the first study with a significant P-value indicates there is a 16.2% improvement in the mortality ratio by removing only vegetables vs. a 16.6% mortality ratio improvement by removing only red meat.

seems like kind of a ridiculous finding trumpeted in these news articles when you look at this data. i'm sure it would look great for a Harvard researcher to be out there saying, "well just pick one or the other. don't eat a lot of veggies or don't eat a lot of meat."

IDK tbh...

#6 seekonk

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 10:50 PM

They have a weird binary way of weighing intakes:

0 = below the median
1 = above the median

So many (maybe most) of the "minus vegetables" population would be eating quite a bit of vegetables, for example.

It is hard to see how to draw useful conclusions from this.

A better study would have weighed intakes by a continuous parameter related to the actual intake.

Edited by seekonk, 24 June 2009 - 10:51 PM.


#7 niner

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 03:29 AM

This is interesting data, but it's really hard to draw conclusions from. The biggest bang of all comes from... Ethanol. Bring on the Everclear! But wait, should that be red wine? Hmm. The next best thing? MEAT. Whomp. There it is. Your 16 oz. steak, that is. Progressive, I think you read the mortality ratios wrong; removing meat causes people in this analysis to die sooner. (higher mortality ratio is worse) Vegetables, fruit & nuts, olive oil, and legumes bring up the rear. Dairy products and cereals, the dastardly duo, so hated on the Internet, make things a little worse when they are removed. So these guys have massaged this data in such a way that everything we know is wrong. At least, everything that some of us know. As you can see, it's easy to draw conclusions from this that don't exactly meet the smell test. I think maybe a lot of the confusion comes from the relative quantity and quality of the foods being discussed. Does "meat" in this diet mean a pound of bacon at every meal, or does it mean a modest serving of grass-fed animals once a day? Does alcohol mean whiskey or does it mean red wine? Does mono/saturated ratio distinguish between low olive oil consumers and high vegetable oil consumers? Is "cereal" whole grain oats or Cap'n Crunch? So my conclusion is that we shouldn't over-analyze this data. If we know what each component actually is, then we can take home the right message from it. The Mediterranean diet clearly rocks. I'm looking forward to opening that new bottle of olive oil I just bought.

Edited by niner, 25 June 2009 - 03:31 AM.


#8 seekonk

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 01:10 PM

Speaking of massaging the data, for ethanol they build some arbitrary assumptions right in. Any intake in a preset range gets a 1, anything below or above that range gets a 0. So the "minus ethanol" group includes lushes and practicing alcoholics.

Given the size of the study, wasting all that data and money on this kind of brain-dead analysis is beyond belief. Having collected all that data, they could at the very least have followed a dose-response approach. As it is, their analysis is absolutely useless for drawing any useful dose-response conclusions.

By the way, I actually suspect their conclusions are probably mostly correct. It is just very disappointing that the analysis is of insufficient quality to really draw any useful lessons from it.

Edited by seekonk, 25 June 2009 - 01:15 PM.


#9 EmbraceUnity

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 05:49 PM

This is interesting data, but it's really hard to draw conclusions from. The biggest bang of all comes from... Ethanol. Bring on the Everclear! But wait, should that be red wine? Hmm. The next best thing? MEAT. Whomp. There it is. Your 16 oz. steak, that is. Progressive, I think you read the mortality ratios wrong; removing meat causes people in this analysis to die sooner. (higher mortality ratio is worse)



I didn't study the numbers that carefully, but I'm assuming that they are saying that small amounts of meat in the diet do not significantly contribute to longer life.

The dominant components of the Mediterranean diet score as a predictor of lower mortality are moderate consumption of ethanol, low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil, and legumes.


I somehow doubt the scientists read their own data wrong, but it isn't impossible. From a second look at the data it does seem confusing. The first graph, if I read it correctly, seems to say that removing the small amount of meat in the Mediterranean Diet had a similar effect as removing the vegetables. The second graph seems to show that removing the meat is slightly worse. Considering the alcohol had the greatest impact according to the scientists, this is also confusing unless it is just another data point in favor of resveratrol.

Perhaps there is something we both are missing, niner.

#10 seekonk

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 07:06 PM

I somehow doubt the scientists read their own data wrong, but it isn't impossible. From a second look at the data it does seem confusing. The first graph, if I read it correctly, seems to say that removing the small amount of meat in the Mediterranean Diet had a similar effect as removing the vegetables. The second graph seems to show that removing the meat is slightly worse.


Nobody removed meat or removed vegetables. As explained in the article, "minus meat" just means "not consuming more than the median intake", same for vegetables, while "minus ethanol" means "either more or less than the preset range".

Edited by seekonk, 25 June 2009 - 07:08 PM.





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