There's powerful evidence that the ancient Mediterranean diet can extend your life

There’s an endless supply of fad diets out there. Many of them have at least some studies to back them up. Others don’t.

But there’s one way of eating that has an unusually substantial body of research and scientific consensus to back it up: the restricted Mediterranean diet.

If all you want to do with a diet is shed some pounds, pretty much any plan you stick to that cuts sugar and calories should do the trick — at least in the short-term. But if you want to live a longer, healthier, more nutritious life, the best evidence and scientific consensus point to Mediterranean eating as the way to go.

Here, in short, is how you follow the Mediterranean diet:

  • Eat rich, complex plant-based carbohydrates like whole grains.
  • Eat large portions vegetables and fruits.
  • Eat lots of foods rich in fibre, like split peas, lentils, and artichokes.
  • Eat plenty of healthy, monounsaturated fats like olive oil.
  • Eat lots of nuts and legumes.
  • Eat eggs and dairy fat in smaller portions.
  • Avoid red meat in favour of plant proteins, fish, and the occasional poultry meat.
  • Avoid added sugar and highly processed foods.

In general, people eating in the Mediterranean style should mostly be eating whole foods, prepared simply.

The idea that the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest option isn’t new. But we’re highlighting it again because of a recent literature review that examined the entire field of longevity research and found the overwhelming evidence supports Mediterranean eating habits, and avoiding red meat and sugar in particular.

Other key findings of the review: A consistent program of caloric restriction — that is, getting in the habit of eating as much as you need to maintain healthy body weight, not as much as you need to always feel full — has all kinds of benefits for your metabolism and longevity. Ditto staying active throughout your day, exercising regularly, and avoiding snacking between meals.

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