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Diet for healthy blood?

Tuesday April 22nd, 2014

The Mediterranean lifestyle may help to keep the blood healthy, according to a new study.

Researchers in Italy linked "strict" adherence to local diets to reduced levels of platelets and of white blood cells.

They believe this indicates one way in which the diet contributes to the health of the circulatory system and helps to prevent chronic inflammation.

The findings come from a study of nearly 15,000 healthy men and women over the age of 35 from the Molise region of central and southern Italy, reported in the journal Blood.

Researchers set out to establish whether participants complied with the "Mediterranean" diet, defined as being high in green vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil. They also measured platelet and white blood cell levels.

They found that those who ate diets of this kind had lower platelet and white blood cell counts than the others of their own age group and gender.

They also noted that the younger participants had higher platelet and blood cell counts than older participants - suggesting a younger generation drifting away from traditional diets.

Researcher Dr Marialaura Bonaccio, PhD, of the IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo NEUROMED, Italy, said: “An important finding of this study is that it indicates that the Mediterranean diet as a whole, and not just a few specific ingredients, is likely responsible for the beneficial health outcomes among the healthy population and should be encouraged as part of healthy eating habits.

“Building on these important findings, we continue to study this population to determine if the dietary habits may have an influence on cardiovascular disease-related mortality.”

Dr Bonaccio added: "Because the study included healthy participants, the lower levels of platelets and white blood cells in those who were more strictly consuming a Mediterranean diet indicate that this eating plan could account for substantial changes within normal ranges of variability.

"This is an important finding that has implications for how these anti-inflammatory markers are tracked among the general population."

Blood 31 March 2014

Tags: Diet & Food | Europe | General Health

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