London: A `Mediterranean diet` can increase a woman`s lifespan by as much as 15 years, and increase a man`s life by eight years, says a study.
What is a Mediterranean diet? It is one rich in vegetables, olive oil, fruit, nuts, fish and whole grains, with occasional meat and alcohol.
Those who can combine such a diet with exercise, avoiding smoking and maintaining desirable weight, could expect to live up to 15 years longer, reports the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The 10-year study by the University of Maastricht in Netherlands followed 120,000 men and women aged between 55 and 69 years in 1986, according to the Daily Mail.
Piet van den Brandt, professor of epidemiology at Maastricht, who worked on the study, said: "This study shows that a healthy lifestyle can lead to significant health benefits. The effects of a Mediterranean diet were more evident in women than in men."
The effect is strongest in women, who can live an extra 15 years compared to the least healthy people, while healthy men can enjoy eight years more.
Researchers found that combining the diet with exercise, keeping to a healthy weight and not smoking dramatically cut the risk of dying young.