By now, you may have heard of the Mediterranean diet, which is a style of eating abundant in fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and – of course – olive oil. This diet has been praised time and time again for its health benefits, like making heart stronger and even improving brain function. Well, a new study suggests this type of eating gets an additional gold star as it can help support strong bones, too.
The new findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, uncovered that the Mediterranean diet can help support strong bones, along with keeping your waist trim, heart strong, and brain on track.
The researchers evaluated the effect of diet quality on bone health in postmenopausal women. They uncovered that women who ate closest to the Mediterranean diet were less likely to suffer from bone fractures – specifically, hip fractures.
The Mediterranean diet isn’t complicated and involves fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, olive oil, and fish. Meat, dairy, and saturated fat should be well limited but, on the other hand, you can enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner.
The study included data analysis of 90,014 women with an average age of 64. The women described their diets in a questionnaire and the researchers compared their dietary patterns to the Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and two other common diets.
After 16 years, 2,121 cases of hip fractures were reported, as well as 28,718 total incidences of fractures. Women whose eating habits most closely resembled the Mediterranean diet were 0.29 percent less likely to experience a hip fracture.
Lead study author Dr. Bernhard Haring said, “Our results provide assurance that widely recommended eating patterns do not increase the risk of fractures. This being said, the average woman should follow a healthy lifestyle, which includes adopting a healthy dietary pattern and being physically active.”
As populations continue to age, osteoporosis and other bone-related health issues are growing. Although it has been unclear whether taking supplementation for bone health can yield stronger bones, this study reveals that diet can play a role in bone health.
It is important to note that the study only reveals a small benefit of the Mediterranean diet in postmenopausal women, and it might have a greater impact if women follow such a diet to support strong bones prior to hitting menopause.
In a related commentary, Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard School of Public Health added, “At the present time, the U.S. health system almost entirely ignores nutrition in favor of pharmacology and is hugely expensive and ineffective compared with the systems in other countries. Integration of the Mediterranean diet and related dietary patterns into medical practice, hospitals, schools, and other institutions has the potential to improve well-being.”