Keeping red meat to a minimum is also advised
Drinking a glass of wine or two a day as well as large amounts of fruit, vegetables and olive oil while keeping red meat consumption to a minimum add up to a recipe for a longer life, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that not all foods that make up the Mediterranean diet carry the same benefits. Eating large amounts of fish and seafood for example or the low levels of dairy traditionally associated with the diet did little or nothing to lengthen life span.
Previous research has found that sticking to the diet can protect the brain against developing Alzheimer’s and other memory problems, cut the chances of developing heart disease and even reduce the risk of being diagnosed with cancer.
The latest study, which followed 23,000 people, found that those who adhered most closely to a typical Mediterranean diet were 14% more likely to still be alive at the end of eight years.
Prof Dimitrios Trichopoulos, from the Harvard School of Public Health, who led the study, said: ‘The analysis suggests that the dominant components of the Mediterranean diet… are moderate consumption of alcohol, mostly in the form of wine during meals, as it traditional in the Mediterranean countries, low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil and legume.’
Drinking wine had the most benefit on life span the findings suggest, followed by reducing meat consumption and then eating high numbers of fruit, vegetables and nuts.
However, the findings, published online by the British Medical Journal, do not mean that eating fish carries few health benefits. Previous studies have suggested that the omega three ‘good’ fatty acids found in fatty fish like tuna and salmon can help protect the mind against decline and even cut the risk that men will develop prostate cancer.