Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mediterranean Diet May Blunt Air Pollution's Ill Health Effects

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mediterranean Diet May Blunt Air Pollution's Ill Health Effects

Article excerpt

Rich in antioxidants, the Mediterranean diet favors fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oils, fish and poultry over red meat and processed foods. Antioxidants are molecules that disarm oxidized and highly reactive molecules, or free radicals, that are known to cause cell and tissue damage.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Diet and Health Study. Over 17 years, the study followed 548,699 people (average age 62 at enrollment) from 6 states--California, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana and Pennsylvania--and two cities--Atlanta and Detroit. During that time, 126,835 people in the study group died.

The researchers created five groups of participants based on their level of adherence to a Mediterranean diet and linked participants to estimates of long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrous oxide (N[O.sub.2]) and ozone ([O.sub.3]) based on census tract information.

When comparing those least and most adherent to a Mediterranean diet, the study found that:

* Deaths from all causes increased by 5 percent for every 10 parts per billion (ppb) increase in long-term average N[O.sub.2] exposure in those least adherent, compared to 2 percent among the most adherent.

* Cardiovascular disease deaths increased by 17 percent for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter ([micro]g/[m. …

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