Chronic kidney disease is a growing epidemic worldwide and increasing evidence suggests a link with poor diet.
The Mediterranean diet includes a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes and healthy heart fats.
It also minimizes the consumption of red meat, processed foods and sweets.
The researchers at Columbia University looked at the link between varying degrees of the Mediterranean diet and its effect on long term kidney function.
Nearly 900 participants were followed over a period of seven years.
Those on the diet had up to 50pc less chance of developing chronic kidney disease and 42pc lower chance of experiencing rapid kidney function decline.
The results of the study are published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr Julie Lin of Brigham and Women’s Hospital noted that a Mediterranean-style diet is only one component of an overall healthy lifestyle, which also needs to incorporate regular physical activity.
“Although a seemingly simple goal, achieving this is challenging. We need to begin by embracing the reality that there is no magic pill or miracle food, only vigilance and discipline with diet and regular exercise, and the rare indulgence in cake for very special occasions,” she wrote.