A Mediterranean diet is characterized by a regular intake of fruit, vegetables, pulses, fish, olive oil and nuts.
It has been considered as a healthy food model and has proven to lessen the chances of chronic illness.
Regions where people subscribe to the diet also have a lower mortality rate. For years the region’s diet has been associated with superior physical health.
The study found that the consumption of oil-rich Mediterranean foods, such as fish and seafood, helps to improve overall well-being.
However, it was not yet clear how the diet impacts on mental and physical health and quality of life.
So scientists devised a food pyramid, which states main meals should never lack cereals, fruits, vegetables and a daily intake of two liters of water.
Olive oil is the main source of fat for nutritional quality and moderate consumption of wine is recommended, as well as fish, lean meat and eggs, all are found in Mediterranean diets.
At the top of the pyramid are sugar, sweets, cakes, pastries and sweet drinks, which should only be consumed occasionally and in small amounts.
Eating a Mediterranean diet is good for the mind as well as the body and improves a person’s quality of life, according to researchers.
But scientists have now linked its consumption to improved mental and physical health too.
Of the 11,000 students surveyed over a four-year period, scientists found those who stuck to the diet scored far higher on quality of life questionnaire.
Results showed those who stuck more to the Mediterranean diet scored higher on the quality of life questionnaire in terms of physical and mental well-being, with the link to physical well-being even stronger.
Lead researcher Patricia Henrmquez Sanchez said, ‘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.
‘The Mediterranean diet is an important factor associated with better quality of life and can be considered as a healthy food model.’
The study is published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.