In the largest study of its kind on the subject, following a modified version of the Mediterranean diet — high in fish, fruits and vegetables — could extend one’s life, according to the British Medical Journal. Based on the growing support for the Mediterranean diet, researchers surveyed a diverse group of some 75,000 elderly patients in nine European countries based on following a modified diet substituting monounsaturated fats with plant-based unsaturated fats.

Measured on a 10-point scale, patients who more closely followed the modified diet lowered their mortality rate significantly. An increase from 2-4 points on the scale reduced one’s risk of death anywhere from 8-14 percent. For example, following the diet strictly, according to the study, could mean a healthy 60-year-old man could live a year longer than another who didn’t follow the diet.

Also, the link between longevity and diet was strongest in Greece and Spain and weakest in northern Italy where diets diverge from the Mediterranean.

One very crucial concept for you to remember when considering a diet strategy: Because our bodies are made up of a unique biochemistry that requires a different combination of foods to run at its most optimum level, no one-size-fit-all diet is perfect for everyone. That’s why eating a diet based on your body’s individual metabolic type is one of the best things you can do to optimize your health.

British Medical Journal, Vol. 330, No. 7498, April 30, 2005Free Full Text Article April 8, 2005