When it comes to healthy eating, the Mediterranean diet is considered the “gold standard.” It emphasizes lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, olive oil, fish and legumes, with wine in moderation and very little red meat, fried and processed foods and sugar. And now new research finds that following a Mediterranean lifestyle could actually help us live longer.
According to a study involving more than 110-thousand people between the ages of 40 and 75 over nine years, adults who live a Mediterranean lifestyle have a 29% lower risk of dying from any cause, and a 28% lower chance of dying from cancer, than those who don’t. Researchers found that people who most closely follow the Mediterranean lifestyle have the lowest risk of death. So what exactly does it entail?
Beyond the diet, the Mediterranean lifestyle is a “traditional and cultural healthy way of living, according to lead study author Dr. Mercedes Sotos-Prieto.
- Eating with loved ones and taking time to eat mindfully - How you eat may be as important as what you eat. Meals are enjoyed with family and friends and the social aspect is a key feature of the lifestyle.
- Resting and sleeping enough - It’s common in Mediterranean countries to take a short mid-afternoon nap, as well as get six to eight hours of sleep a night.
- Maintaining strong social connections - This includes having an active social life and spending time with friends and family on a regular basis.
- Exercising regularly - Being active is also a social activity, like taking walks with friends, as people in Mediterranean countries often do.
"This study suggests that it's possible for non-Mediterranean populations to adopt the Mediterranean diet using locally available products and to adopt the overall Mediterranean lifestyle within their own cultural contexts,” concludes Sotos-Prieto.