Mediterranean Diet Benefits Bone Density and Muscle Mass After Menopause


This heart-healthy diet may help prevent osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women.


The Mediterranean diet appears to increase bone mineral density and muscle mass in postmenopausal women, according to a Brazilian study. The results were recently presented at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago, IL.

The Mediterranean diet involves a high intake of fruits and vegetables, grains, potatoes, olive oil, and seeds; moderately high fish intake; low saturated fat, dairy, and red meat consumption; and regular but moderate drinking of red wine. The diet has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and certain other chronic diseases.

Few studies, however, have looked at the effects of the Mediterranean diet on body composition after menopause, said the study’s lead investigator, Thais Rasia Silva, PhD, at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

The study
Silva and colleagues conducted their study in 103 healthy women from southern Brazil, who had an average age of 55 and who had gone through menopause 5.5 years earlier, on average. All women underwent bone scans to measure their bone mineral density, total body fat, and appendicular lean mass, which was used to estimate skeletal muscle mass. The subjects also completed a food questionnaire about what they ate in the past month.

A higher Mediterranean diet score, which indicated better adherence to the diet, was significantly associated with higher bone mineral density measured at the lumbar spine and with greater muscle mass, Silva reported. This association, she said, was independent of whether the women used hormone therapy previously, their previous smoking behavior, or their current level of physical activity, as measured by wearing a pedometer for 6 days.

Implications for clinicians
“We found that the Mediterranean diet could be a useful nonmedical strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women,” Silva said.


Mediterranean diet is linked to higher muscle mass, bone density after menopause [press release]. Washington, DC: Endocrine Society; March 20, 2018.

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