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Mediterranean diet and leukocyte telomere length in a multi-ethnic elderly population.

Authors: Yian Y. Gu, Lawrence S LS. Honig, Nicole N. Schupf, Joseph H JH. Lee, Jose A JA. Luchsinger, Yaakov Y. Stern, Nikolaos N. Scarmeas
Published: 03/08/2015, Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands)


Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is considered as the marker of biological aging and may be related to environmental factors. The current study aimed to examine the relation between Mediterranean-type diet and LTL. We used a cross-sectional study of 1743 multi-ethnic community residents of New York aged 65 years or older. Mediterranean-type diet (MeDi) was calculated from dietary information collected using a food frequency questionnaire. LTL was measured from leukocyte DNA using a real-time PCR method to measure T/S ratio, the ratio of telomere (T) to single-copy gene (S) sequence. Regression analysis showed that the MeDi score was not associated with LTL in the overall study population (β = 12.5; p = 0.32) after adjusting for age, sex, education, ethnicity, caloric intake, smoking, and physical and leisure activities. However, we found a significant association between MeDi and LTL among non-Hispanic whites (β = 48.3; p = 0.05), and the results held after excluding dementia subjects (β = 49.6; p = 0.05). We further found that, in the whole population, vegetable and cereal consumption above the sex-specific population median was associated with longer LTL (β = 89.1, p = 0.04) and shorter LTL (β = -93.5; p = 0.03), respectively. Among non-Hispanic whites, intake of meat or dairy below sex-specific population medians was associated with longer LTL (β = 154.7, p = 0.05; β = 240.5, p < 0.001, respectively). We found that higher adherence to a MeDi was associated with longer LTL among whites but not among African Americans and Hispanics. Additionally, a diet high in vegetables but low in cereal, meat, and dairy might be associated with longer LTL among healthy elderly.

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