According to a new US study greater adherence to the micronutrient-rich Mediterranean diet is associated with longer telomeres potentially promoting health and longevity.
The observational study calculated nutrient intakes, based on food frequency questionnaires, and measured the relative telomere lengths in peripheral blood leukocytes of 4676 middle aged and older healthy women (1). The study results showed that participants with high intakes of vitamin-, carotenoid- and mineral-rich vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and grains as well as a high intake of olive oil and fish, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, had significantly longer telomeres after adjustment for potential confounders (e.g., body mass index, smoking, physical activity and energy intake).
The researchers noted that micronutrients in fruits, vegetables, and nuts, key components of the Mediterranean diet, have well known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which can positively affect telomere length. Telomere attrition has been shown to be accelerated by oxidative stress and inflammation. Telomere length is considered to be a biomarker of aging; shorter telomeres are associated with a decreased life expectancy and increased rates of developing age related chronic diseases. The variability of telomere length may be partially explained by lifestyle practices, including dietary patterns.