December 11/Washington/Hindustan Times-- If you eat a Mediterranean diet and follow a good physical regimen, you are less likely to die, at least not for the next five years, according to two new reports.

Results of the two studies have revealed that eating a Mediterranean diet and following national recommendations for physical activity are each associated with a reduced risk of death over a five-year period.

Both the studies used the data from the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, which began when questionnaires were returned from 566,407 AARP members age 50 to 71 in six states between 1995 and 1996.

The first study was carried out by Panagiota N. Mitrou, Ph.D., then of the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md., and now of the University of Cambridge, England, and colleagues.

They used a nine-point scale to evaluate the consistency of 380,296 of the participants (214,284 men and 166,012 women) with no history of chronic disease with Mediterranean diet.

The diet included components like vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, ratio of monounsaturated fats, alcohol and meat.

During five years of follow-up, 12,105 participants died, including 5,985 from cancer and 3,451 from cardiovascular disease.

However, people with higher Mediterranean diet scores had less chances of dying due to any cause or cancer or heart disease.

The other study was carried out by Michael F. Leitzmann, M.D., Dr.P.H., also of the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues.

They examined the results of two questionnaires on physical activity from 252,925 of the participants (142,828 men and 110,097 women).

Of those, 7,900 died during follow-up.

As compared to being inactive, individuals who performed the amount of moderate physical activity recommended in national guidelines (at least 30 minutes most days of the week) were 27% less likely to die and those who achieved the goal for vigorous physical activity (at least 20 minutes three times per week) were 32% less likely to die.

Also a smaller amount of physical activity was found to be related with a 19% reduced risk of death.

The studies were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

From the December 17, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash