Female non-smokers who eat a Mediterranean diet, exercise and keep a healthy weight could live up to 15 years longer, researchers say. Meanwhile, men who follow a similarly healthy regime could add eight years to their lifespans, according to academics at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
A Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, olive oil, fruit, nuts, fish and whole grains but low in meat and alcohol. Combining that with exercise, a healthy weight and avoiding smoking could "substantially reduce" the risks of dying young, researchers reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The researchers looked at 120,000 men and women who were aged 55 to 69 in 1986 and followed the group until 1996. The team calculated a "healthy lifestyle score" based on smoking, exercise, weight and diet. Piet van den Brandt, a Professor of epidemiology at Maastricht University who worked on the study, said: "Very few research studies worldwide have analysed the relationship between a combination of lifestyle factors and mortality in this way."