For the fourth year in a row, the Mediterranean diet has claimed the number one spot on U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the best diets. And according to a study, among its many benefits, it may lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) among women who were ever-smokers.
The Mediterranean diet ranked number one overall for 2021 and also garnered the first-place spots for best diets for healthy eating, easiest diets to follow, best diets for diabetes, best plant based diets, and best heart-healthy diets, USA Today reports.
Mayo Clinic describes the trendy diet as inclusive of the following facets:
- Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
- Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
- Moderate portions of dairy products
- Limited intake of red meat
This way of eating is perhaps less so a meal plan and more of a lifestyle, as it also calls for sharing meals with loved ones, exercising, and the occasional glass of red wine—not a bad deal for a so-called “diet!”
Just in time for the announcement of this victory, a study published in the January issue of Arthritis & Rheumatology found that among women who were ever-smokers, following this diet was associated with a lower risk for developing RA.
Women were identified from the Etude Epidémiologique Auprès des Femmes de la Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale study, a French prospective cohort study that has incorporated nearly 100,000 women since 1990. A food frequency questionnaire was administered in 1993. A 9-unit dietary score was used to determine adherence to the Mediterranean diet, factoring in consumption of vegetables, legumes, cereal products, fish, meat, dairy products, olive oil, and alcohol.
The present analysis consisted of 62,629 women, in whom 480 incident cases of RA were recorded. When assessing the cohort as a whole, no correlation was observed between Mediterranean diet adherence score and risk of RA (hazard ratio [HR] for high score versus low score, 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67-1.09; P for trend = 0.09). But when the group was stratified by smoking status, a higher score in ever-smokers was correlated with a reduced risk for RA (HR for 1-point increase in score, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.84-0.99; P=0.03). The absolute risk of RA among ever-smokers with high scores was 38.3 per 100,000 person-years, and among ever-smokers with low scores, 51.5 per 100,00 person-years; for never-smokers with high scores, the absolute risk was 35.8 per 100,000 person-years.