In the past, studies have shown the Mediterranean Diet can have huge health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of chronic disease and cancer. But now, a new study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital has shown that the diet may even slow down aging and lengthen your life.

It all has to do with telomeres, which we’ve mentioned a few times recently. Telomeres are the tips at the end of chromosomes which regulate the aging of cells. The shorter the telomeres, the more rapidly the cells age. The longer the telomeres, the slower the cells age and the more longevity a person can hope to have.

The study looked at more than 4,500 disease-free women. Each participant completed a food questionnaire and had their telomere length measured. “Our findings showed that healthy eating, overall, was associated with longer telomeres. However, the strongest association was observed among women who adhered to the Mediterranean diet,” said Marta Crous Bou, one of the study’s authors.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Mediterranean diet, you can read up on it here. Some of the basic principles are--

    1. Primarily eat plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts.

    2. Limit salt and instead use other herbs and spices.

    3. Limit red meat and instead eat seafood and poultry.

    4. Replace butter with healthier fats, such as olive oil.

    5. Eat fewer sweets.

The researchers hope to conduct further studies to see which aspects of the Mediterranean diet are most helpful for maintaining longer telomeres.