A study has found that the Mediterranean diet, alongside other factors, could have the capability of extending life expectancy in women by up to 15 years, and for men by eight years.
The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, olive oil, fruit, nuts, fish and whole grains, and low in meat and alcohol.
The ten-year study by the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands followed 120,000 men and women who were aged 55 to 69 in 1986 until 1996.
Researchers said that those who follow the diet combined with exercise, not smoking and keeping to a healthy weight could live up to 15 years longer.
They also said that keeping to the four healthy lifestyle factors can “substantially reduce” the risk of an early death.
“Very few research studies worldwide have analysed the relationship between a combination of lifestyle factors and mortality in this way,” the Daily Mail quoted Piet van den Brandt, professor of epidemiology at Maastricht University, who worked on the study, as saying.
“This study shows that a healthy lifestyle can lead to significant health benefits.
“Furthermore, the effects of a Mediterranean diet were more evident in women than in men.
Within this diet, nuts, vegetables and alcohol intake had the biggest impact on lower mortality rates,” Brandt added.
The findings have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.