Eating a Mediterranean diet, keeping a healthy weight, exercise, and not smoking may extend your life by up to 15 years — particularly if you’re a woman, a new study suggests.
The 10-year study, at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, concludes that sticking to all “four modifiable healthy lifestyle factors can substantially reduce premature mortality in women and men.”
Women especially may benefit. The study — which tracked 120,000 men and women who were aged 55 to 69 in 1986 — said women who eat a Mediterranean diet and follow the other healthy habits may live up to 15 years longer.
Men may prolong their lives by up to 8-1/2 years.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seafood, nuts and olive oil. The diet is low in meat, with alcohol consumption ranging from half a glass to two glasses a day.
“This study shows that a healthy lifestyle can lead to significant health benefits,” Piet van den Brandt, Professor of Epidemiology at Maastricht University, said. “Very few research studies worldwide have analyzed the relationship between a combination of lifestyle factors and mortality in this way.”
He noted the effects of a Mediterranean diet “were more evident in women than in men,” adding: “Within this diet, nuts, vegetables and alcohol intake had the biggest impact on lower mortality rates.”
The study appears in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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