London, Sept 12 : Sticking to a full Mediterranean diet offers substantial protection against heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, according to a study.
The study has been published online in the British Medical Journal.
According to researchers, a 'score' based on adherence to the Mediterranean diet could be used as an effective preventive tool for reducing the risk of premature death in the general population.
The Mediterranean diet has a reputation for being a model of healthy eating and contributing to better health and quality of life, since it is rich in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and fish, but low in meat, dairy products and alcohol, reports the British Medical Journal.
To reach the conclusion, the team of researchers from the University of Florence assessed 12 international studies, which collectively included more than 1.5 million participants whose dietary habits and health were tracked for follow-up periods ranging from three to 18 years.
All the studies examined the concept of using a numerical score to estimate how much people stuck to the diet, called an 'adherence score'.
The researchers found that people who stuck strictly to a Mediterranean diet had significant improvements in their health, including a 9percent drop in overall mortality, a 9percent drop in mortality from cardiovascular disease, a 13 percent reduction in incidence of Parkinson and Alzheimer's disease, and a 6 percent reduction in cancer.
The researchers suggest that keeping an 'adherence score' based on "a theoretically defined Mediterranean diet could be an effective preventive tool for reducing the risk of mortality and morbidity in the general population."