Older women who ate Mediterranean diet are at a lower risk of hip fracture compared to those who ate other healthy diets, a new study found.

The Mediterranean diet is gaining popularity among health buffs due to its evidence-based health benefits. In the new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the bones can benefit from this diet too.

Researchers from the University of Wurzburg, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) examined whether diet quality affects bone health in older postmenopausal women.

A Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish, nuts and olive oil. The diet is relatively easy to follow with just eating primarily plant-based foods. It also requires replacing butter with healthy fats like olive oil and using herbs instead of salt.

The researchers conducted a Post hoc analysis of longitudinal data from 40 clinical centers in the United States. The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) observational study consists of all the data used in the paper.

Nearly 100,000 women ages 50 to 79 years old were eligible for the study and they were asked to answer the WHI food frequency questionnaire. The team looked at the women's diets and whether they suffered from hip fracture over a 16-year period.

About 90,014 women were included in the analysis of data and the researchers compared the dietary patterns to four common healthy diets including Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and two others.

"Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk for hip fractures. These results support that a healthy dietary pattern may play a role in maintaining bone health in postmenopausal women," the researchers concluded.

At the end of the study, 2,121 women suffered hip fractures and 28,718 of total fractures. Older women who followed a Mediterranean diet had 0.29 percent lesser risk of suffering from hip fracture than other women who did not adhere to the diet.

"Our results provide assurance that widely recommended eating patterns do not increase the risk of fractures," said Dr. Bernhard Haring from the University of Wurzburg and lead author of the study.

"This being said, the average woman should follow a healthy lifestyle which includes adopting a healthy dietary pattern and being physically active," he added.

Photo: Moyan Brenn | Flickr 

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