A Mediterranean style diet has been linked to improved mental and physical health and a better quality of life, according to the findings of new research.
The study – published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition – looked at how the Mediterranean diet, which is known to be rich in fruit, vegetables, pulses, fish, olive oil and nuts, influences people’s quality of life.
A team of Spanish researchers investigated over 11,000 students over four years and analysed the influence the Mediterranean diet had on them. They noted that while the diet has been associated with a reduction in the risk of certain illnesses and increased general well-being, this new study shows that it is also linked to improved mental and physical health.
The study positively valued the consumption of nuts, cereals, fish, fruit, vegetables and pulses, while negatively rating intake of alcohol, dairy products and meat.
The results reveal a correlation between those who have the 'most Mediterranean diet' scored higher than those with different eating habits in terms of mental health and happiness, with an even stronger link found when physical wellbeing was analysed.
"The progressive aging of the population in developed countries makes it even more interesting to find out those factors that can increase quality of life and the health of the population," lead author of the study and researcher at the centre in the Canary Islands Patricia Henriquez Sanchez said.
She added: "The Mediterranean diet is an important factor - associated with better quality of life - and can be considered as a healthy food model."
Do you follow a specific diet? Have you found it helps you with your mental health?