Switching to the Mediterranean diet could help you live longer, here's why

The results of a new study add to the growing evidence of the Mediterranean diet's health-protecting effects

Mediterranean diet foods on a table
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The food we eat has a massive impact on our health, and the Mediterranean diet might be one of the most effective ways to live a healthier life. It's been a popular choice for years, but new research shows it might also help you live longer too.

For many of us, learning how to eat healthily is a crucial part of shaking up our diets, stripping out processed foods, and cooking more from scratch. These are great habits to get into, but what we eat also plays a vital role.

The Mediterranean diet isn't new—people have been talking about it since the 1960s—but researchers keep discovering its health-boosting benefits. Given this history, it's not surprising that a recent study found it lowers your risk of death as well.

Rather than relying solely on self-reported food questionnaires, the team also analyzed the nutritional content of urine samples taken at the beginning of the trial. All over the age of 65, the participants completed food surveys after three, six, and nine years.

After evaluating the data, the team found that sticking to the Mediterranean diet was linked to a lower risk of premature death. This adds to sizeable evidence of the diet's other benefits, like weight loss, a lowered risk of ill-health, and improved mental wellbeing.

Group of people eating Mediterranean diet foods

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The researchers recruited almost 650 participants with a dietary history recorded as part of InCHIANTI , a long-running study recruiting people living in the area around Tuscany, Italy. It might seem unusual, but there's a reason for this geographic limitation.

The foods commonly enjoyed throughout the Mediterranean Basin, an area that includes Italy, France, and Greece, form the basis of the Mediterranean diet. So, to study the effects of this way of eating, it makes sense to include people from the region.

Today's global supply chains mean that we can buy food from all around the world at our local grocery store, but fresh fruit and veg, olive oil, whole grains, and fish are local to the area and seem to be responsible for the diet's success.

There are a few other ways to give yourself the best chance at a healthier, longer life, like taking the best fish oil supplements. Although this diet includes fish, it's not to everyone's taste, and these supplements help you get Omega-3 into your diet.

This fatty acid plays a vital role in protecting the heart, improving the immune system, and supporting our cognitive abilities, especially as we age. And rolling out of the best yoga mats can bolster those effects.

Yoga helps develop a connection between your body and mind and is sometimes called moving meditation. But it has physical impacts, too, like improving your flexibility and building practical muscle.

You'll breathe better and the extra flexibility promotes blood flow and circulation, which also adds to yoga's positive effects. By combining this low-impact exercise with a Mediterranean diet, you'll stay healthy and active well into your later years. 

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.