The Mediterranean diet, made up of vegetables, nuts, whole grains and extra virgin olive oil, among others, increases bone density and muscle mass for women postmenopausal, a study suggests.

Other components of this type of diet are seeds, legumes, potatoes, breads, hers, and seafood. Those who follow sparingly eat poultry, eggs and cheese and rarely consume red meat.

The diet’s merits have been well-documented in past studies such as its involvement with lower risks for heart diseases and diabetes. A new study reveals that it can also be helpful specifically to women in their menopause.

“We found that the Mediterranean diet could be a useful nonmedical strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women,” said Thais Rasia Silva, study leader and a postdoctoral student at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande de Sul, Brazil.

In the study, the researchers included 103 healthy women from southern Brazil, with an average age of 55 who have gone through menopause five years before.

The participants underwent bone scans to measure their bone mineral density, total body fat and appendicular lean mass - used in estimating skeletal muscle mass. They also answered food questionnaires.

The researchers found thata  high Mediterranean diet score (MDS) indicates better adherence to the diet and thus, have higher bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and greater muscle mass.

The findings were independent of whether the women used hormone therapy or smoked or engaged in any level of physical activity.

“Postmenopausal women, especially those with low bone mass, should ask their doctor whether they might benefit from consuming this dietary pattern,” said Silva.

The researchers received funding from the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications/ Brazilian National Institute of Hormones and Women’s Health and the Research Group of Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre. MIMS