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Your Kidneys Love the Mediterranean Diet

More than 20 million Americans have chronic kidney disease

The Mediterranean diet—higher consumption of fruits, veggies, fish, legumes and heart-healthy fats—is already associated with providing protection against high blood pressure. Now a new study finds adhering to this diet may also significantly reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. This is especially good news for black folks, since more than 1 in 3 kidney failure patients in this country is African American.

Chronic kidney disease is a growing epidemic. There has been progress in protecting against kidney disease and its progression through aggressive treatment of hypertension and diabetes, two major risk factors for kidney disease, but many people still experience declining kidney function as they age.

“Many studies have found a favorable association between the Mediterranean diet and a variety of health outcomes, including those related to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer, among others,” says study author Minesh Khatri, M.D., of Columbia University Medical Center. “There is increasing evidence that poor diet is associated with kidney disease, but it is unknown whether the benefits of a Mediterranean diet could extend to kidney health as well.”

For the study, researchers analyzed 900 participants for almost seven years. They discovered:

Every one-point increase in a Mediterranean diet score was associated with a 17 percent decreased likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease.

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Dietary patterns that closely resembled the Mediterranean diet were linked with a 50 percent reduced risk of developing chronic kidney disease and a 42 percent reduced risk of experiencing kidney function decline.

Though the study linked a Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of kidney disease, experts note that it is only one component of an overall healthy lifestyle.

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