Ageing and the Mediterranean diet: a review of the role of dietary fats

Public Health Nutr. 2004 Oct;7(7):953-8. doi: 10.1079/phn2004560.


Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the relationship between food and health. Concerns have been raised about dietary fats and their relative nutritional advantages or disadvantages. In investigations of the associations between health and fat intake, special emphasis has been placed on the benefits of virgin olive oil for counteracting certain neurodegenerative diseases and ageing. With respect to ageing, accumulating evidence indicates that an improvement in quality of life can be reached by modulation of the extrinsic factors that influence many ageing processes. Of the modifiable factors, nutrition appears to be one of the strongest elements known to influence the rate of ageing as well as the incidence of age-associated diseases such as atherosclerosis and neurodegenerative pathologies. This paper reviews the theory of ageing and the role of fatty acids in the mechanisms affecting its evolution. It also confirms that virgin olive oil, an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, provides large amounts of stable and not easily oxidizable fatty acids as well as remarkable quantities of powerful antioxidant molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Olive Oil
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plant Oils


  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Fats
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils