Mediterranean-style diet shows promise in preventing frailty among older people

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A recent study led by Courtney L Millar from Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard University suggests that following a Mediterranean-style diet may help prevent frailty in older adults.

Frailty, defined as a state of increased vulnerability resulting from a decline in physiological functions, affects 10-15% of older adults and often leads to other health issues.

While the Mediterranean-style diet has long been associated with various health benefits, this study specifically examines its role in reducing frailty in older adults who aren’t traditionally exposed to this dietary pattern.

The research team analyzed data from 2,384 non-frail adults who were part of the Framingham Offspring Study.

Participants were evaluated based on their adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet using the Mediterranean Style Dietary Pattern Score, as well as their antioxidant intakes, specifically focusing on vitamins C, E, and carotenoids.

Key Findings

Impact on Frailty:

Higher adherence to the Mediterranean-style diet was significantly associated with a reduced risk of frailty. For each unit increase in the Mediterranean Style Dietary Pattern Score, the odds of becoming frail reduced by 3%.

Role of Antioxidants:

The study also investigated whether specific antioxidants commonly found in a Mediterranean diet are linked to frailty prevention.

A higher intake of carotenoids, antioxidants often found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, had the most substantial association with reduced frailty risk.

Each 10-mg higher total carotenoid intake was linked to a 16% reduction in the odds of frailty.

However, vitamins E and C did not show a meaningful association with frailty prevention.

Implications and Future Directions

The findings suggest that following a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, can be an effective strategy in preventing frailty among older adults.

Specifically, the consumption of foods high in carotenoids can have a potent protective effect against frailty.

This research can serve as a basis for further studies to confirm these results in larger populations and diverse groups.

It also paves the way for healthcare providers to recommend dietary changes as a preventive strategy against frailty.


The study provides promising evidence that a Mediterranean-style diet, particularly one rich in carotenoids, may be beneficial in preventing frailty in older adults.

Given the significant health impacts of frailty, this dietary approach could be a straightforward way to improve the health and well-being of the aging population.

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