Sticking closely to the Mediterranean diet can lengthen lifespans by warding off the full array of illnesses linked to ageing and Western lifestyle habits, Italian researchers say.
The fish, fruit, pasta, vegetable and olive oil-rich diet cuts mortality from heart disease by 9%, cancer deaths by 6% and the incidence of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases by 13%, a University of Florence team said.
The Florence study is the first time such claims have been made for all age-related diseases and not just heart problems and cancer.
The team, led by Francesco Sofi, drew their conclusions after examining 12 recent studies on diet and health involving 1.5 million people.
Sofi's team, whose study has been published in the British Medical Journal, gave each individual points according to how closely they stuck to the diet.
Overall, they found that deaths from all causes fell by 9% in people who did not stray from the traditional Italian diet.