Researchers at the University of Athens Medical School, in a major pan-Europe study, have produced convincing evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables and fruit and low in saturated fats can help us live longer.
A Mediterranean diet has long been thought to improve general health but this particular study of 74,607 men and women aged over 60 shows that by closely following the diet life can be extended by up to one year.
Information on diet, lifestyle, medical history, smoking and physical activity was collected by the scientists and the men and women were each given a score based on adherence to a Mediterranean diet, with higher scores given to those who ate the most foods linked to such a diet.
The researchers found that a higher dietary score was linked to a lower overall death rate and that a two-point increase in the score was linked to an 8% reduction in mortality, a three-point increase was associated with an 11% drop in mortality and a four-point increase was associated with a 14% drop.
A healthy man of 60 who closely followed a Mediterranean diet could expect to live around one year longer than a man of the same age who did not eat such a diet.
The link was strongest in Greece and Spain and that was probably because people in these countries followed a genuine Mediterranean diet.