Eating a Mediterranean diet might help extend your lifespan, according to a study in the British medical journal BMJ this week.
The diet appears to be associated with longer telomere length, an established marker of slower ageing.
The Mediterranean diet has been consistently linked with health benefits, including
reduced mortality and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease.
The diet has a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils), and grains, plus olive oil but a low intake of saturated fats.
It includes a moderately high intake of fish, a low intake of dairy products, meat and poultry, and regular but moderate intake of alcohol such as wine with meals.
Telomeres sit on the end of chromosomes, stopping them from fraying and scrambling the genetic codes they contain.
In healthy people, telomeres shorten progressively throughout life, more than halving in length from infancy to adulthood, and halving again in the very elderly.
A team of US researchers, led by Immaculata De Vivo, Associate Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, set out to examine whether adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomere length.
They analysed data on 4,676 healthy middle-aged women.
“To our knowledge, this is the largest population-based study specifically addressing the association between Mediterranean diet adherence and telomere length in healthy, middle-aged women,” the researchers write.
“Our results further support the benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet for promoting health and longevity.”
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