Studies show that a Mediterranean diet can increase your lifespan.

According to a study by Harvard Medical School associate professor Immaculata De Vivo, a Mediterranean diet, rich in fish, olive oil, urefined grains, beans, peas, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, topped off with a glass or two of red wine can be an easy and tasty life hack to help you live longer and stay healthier.

Along with it’s properties for increased longevity, this diet can lower your risk of heart disease, prevent strokes, and help trim fat off your waistline.

According to the study, incorporating data from 4,676 healthy middle-aged women involved in a Nurses’ Health Study, women whose diets more closely approximated what’s defined as a ‘Mediterranean diet’ were shown to have longer telomeres.

Telomeres are the essential part of human cells that regulate how our cells age. Like plastic tips on the end of shoelaces, they are caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes.

Telomeres tend to shorten with age, and as they shorten life expectancy is lowered and diseases associated with old age such as atherosclerosis, cancer, and liver disease become more prevalent.

Studies have shown that unhealthy lifestyles, i.e. smoking cigarettes, not exercising, drinking a lot of sodas, stress, and inflammation can prematurely shorten one’s telomeres.

However, the basic components of the Mediterranean diet, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, fish, etc. are proven to have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which help you retain longer telomeres into old age, increasing longevity.

Participants in the study were asked a series of questions about what type of food they ate which would show how close they are to the Mediterranean diet, based on a sore of 0-9 points. They found that each point between 0-9 on average corresponded to an additional 1.5 years of telomere longevity.

Shortening of telomeres is not reversible, but healthy “lifestyle choices can help prevent accelerated shortening,” according to De Vivo.

This ‘Mediterranean Diet Pyramid’ can help you adjust which food you eat to ensure a long life.

Dr. De Vivo also said that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of such a diet “could balance out the bad effects of smoking and obesity.”

Furthermore, the study concluded that¬†“the health benefits of greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet for reduction of overall mortality, increased longevity and reduced incidence of chronic diseases, especially major cardiovascular diseases.”

Rather than any individual aspect of the diet resulting in increased telomere length, the research suggests that the diet itself as a whole was responsible for its health-supporting effects.