Aussie women confirm benefits of Mediterranean diet
Italian women are some of the world's longest-lived and new research has confirmed they owe their vitality to the food they eat.
While the heart-healing benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been known for years, the impact on women specifically has never been explored in depth.
A world-first Australian study has addressed the knowledge gap between the sexes, finding women who ate a Mediterranean diet had a 24 per cent lower risk of heart disease and a 23 per cent lower risk of heart disease-related death.
The review into the diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts, followed 722,000 female participants between 2006 and 2021.
Lead analyst, University of Sydney PhD candidate Anushriya Pant, said most research into the diet's impact on heart disease has primarily been done on men, but the study will prove invaluable in updating women's dietary health guidelines.
"In medical research, there are sex disparities in how clinical trials are designed," Ms Pant said.
"This creates large gaps in clinical data, which can potentially impact the development of health advice.
"Our work is a step towards addressing this gap."
The study found the diet benefited women of all ethnicities and reinforced the importance of eating healthy.
The latest report on Australian women's diets found less than 1 in 10 are eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.
"A healthy diet is a huge factor in preventing heart disease," said Associate Professor Sarah Zaman, who was a senior author on the report.
She said the results highlight the need for more research to include diverse perspectives.
Italian women are the third longest-lived on earth at 86 years, according to the World Health Organisation.
Australian women come in at seventh place, with a life expectancy of 85.