Here's Why Olive Oil May Be the Secret to Aging Well

The latest report on the Mediterranean Diet makes a convincing case for eating like an old Italian lady.

The Mediterranean Diet Study: Why Olive Oil May Be the Secret to Aging Well

(Seraficus/Getty)

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor. He has written for The Awl, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere.

Vegetables, whole grains, fish, healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, little red meat, less alcohol—but wine is cool. As far as proscriptive diets go, that’s about as easy as it gets—it’s an “eat more of these things” kind of approach, rather than the dogmatic “never ever ever eat these things." And unlike trendier, more strict diets, this, the Mediterranean Diet, has repeatedly been shown to provide an impressive health benefits.

If you needed another reason to pour on the olive oil, the most recent study, published today by the Annals of Internal Medicine, shows that women who eat a Mediterranean Diet have a 40 percent greater chance of living past the age of 70 with no cognitive or physical ailments and no chronic diseases.

The study, which began in the mid-1980s, tracked more than 10,000 women who were, at the time, in their late 50s and early 60s. Participants were asked to fill out a survey about their diet every two years, and researches tracked their health as the women aged for the next 15 years. Over the course of that time period, they were given an array of tests to evaluate their mental and physical condition.

Meir Stampfer, a co-author of the new paper, tells NPR that he was "surprised by the magnitude of the effects" the study found. Despite the wealth of medical research on the Mediterranean Diet, this long-term, large-scale study—and its impressive results—further cements its reputation.

So pour on the olive oil, open a bottle of wine, and eat like an old Italian or Greek or Spanish lady—they have this whole diet thing figured out.

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