Scientists have long known that the Mediterranean diet can offer health benefits to those who follow it closely, including helping your heart, bones, brain and even longevity.
Now, a study suggests that adhering to the Mediterranean diet can help prolong your life, even if you are already 65 or older.
A Mediterranean diet involves eating plant-based meals, with just small amounts of lean meat and chicken and more servings of mostly vegetables, fruits, legumes, unrefined grains, olive oil and fish.
Closely adhering to such a diet was associated with a 25% lower risk of all-cause death among a sample of older adults in the Molise region of Italy, according to the study, which was published last week in the British Journal of Nutrition.
“We found, for the first time I believe, a dose-response relationship between the Mediterranean diet and mortality risk. That means that the greater adherence to this diet, the greater the benefit,” said the study’s first author, Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neuromed Institute, a hospital and research institute in Pozzilli, Italy.
The study did not explore exactly how the diet could be tied to prolonged life, but “the Mediterranean diet is rich in many anti-inflammatory foods, so for example, generally olive oil and fibers and also antioxidants,” she said, which may play a role in improved longevity.