New research suggests that adherence to a traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with telomere length, which is considered to be a biomarker of aging. Shorter telomeres are believed to be linked to a decreased life expectancy and increased rates of developing age-related chronic diseases, but studies have suggested that variability in length may be partially explained by lifestyle behaviors such as diet. A total of 4,676 middle-aged and older women from the Nurses’ Health Study were selected as healthy controls and evaluated for anthropometric, reproductive, and lifestyle factors (including body mass index, cigarette smoking, physical activity, and dietary habits). Relative telomere length was determined via a quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction based telomere assay from genomic DNA from peripheral blood leukocytes. After adjustment for potential confounders, higher Alternative Mediterranean Diet scores were associated with higher age-adjusted mean telomere length scores; however, none of the individual components of the Alternative Mediterranean Diet score were significantly associated with telomere length. The authors suggest that the association between the Mediterranean diet and telomere length may be due to the overall effects of the diet, rather than single components like vegetables and monounsaturated fatty acids.
To examine whether adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomere length, a biomarker of aging.