London. The Mediterranean diet which is high in vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil not only helps you live longer but may also help prevent rheumatoid arthritis in individuals who smoke or used to smoke, say researchers.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term autoimmune disorder that primarily affects joints. It typically results in warm, swollen, and painful joints.
Previous research has demonstrated a variety of health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, cereals, fruit and vegetables, fish and a moderate amount of dairy, meat and wine.
Now results from an analysis published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology suggest that the diet may also help prevent rheumatoid arthritis in individuals who smoke or used to smoke.
"We aimed to assess the relationship between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, especially in high-risk individuals," said study authors from Université de Paris in France.
For the findings, the research team included 62,629 women from France who have been taking part in a questionnaire-based study assessing dietary intake since 1990. In total, 480 women developed rheumatoid arthritis.
The researchers found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet was not associated with rheumatoid arthritis risk overall.
However, among women who smoked or used to smoke, it was associated with a decreased risk.
The findings showed 383 cases of rheumatoid arthritis per one million people per year among those with high adherence to the Mediterranean diet, compared with 515 cases per one million people per year among those with low adherence to the diet.
"Our results suggest that adherence to the MD could reduce the high risk of RA among ever-smoking women. Our results must be confirmed in future research," the study authors noted.