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RSSStudy examines longevity diet secrets

Posted on Mon, 27 Aug 12

Study examines longevity diet secrets

A traditional Mediterranean style diet largely based on fresh seasonal plant foods may help explain why an unusually high number of people on the Italian island of Sicily are living over 100 and retaining extremely good health.

In the villages of Sicani Mountains, Sicily there is an average number of centenarians some 4.32-fold higher than the average in the rest of Italy and little evidence of age related diseases such as cancer or heart disease.

It is known that diet may help explain why certain populations live such long and healthy lives so a group of researchers set out to study exactly what these long-lived Sicilians are eating.

Eat Well, Live Well

The assessment found that the centenarians tended to be physically active, a healthy body weight and with a good level of independency. Strikingly they did not have any major age related diseases such as heart disease, cognitive impairment, physical impairment, cancer or kidney problems.

The researchers reported that  “their life is characterized by social networking, acceptable physical activity and small amount of food divided among three meals, which contain a little amount of carbohydrate and meat and a lot of seasonal fruit and vegetables.”

They also have a naturally low-glycemic index diet “because low of refined carbohydrate (no white bread, low amount of pasta, no sweeteners, sweet beverages, can food, frozen already prepared vegetables or dishes, cookies cakes or snacks).”

Intake of olive and virgin olive oil was also high as this is their main source of oil used in food preparation. Olive oil is rich in anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that confer unique health benefits.

Enter the Blue Zone

“Our results are consistent with data described in Dan Buettner’s book (Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who'Ve Lived the Longest ) on the importance of the diets in 5 populations with high longevity,” wrote the researchers. “To reach successful ageing it is advisable to follow a diet with low quantity of saturated fat and high amount of fruits and vegetable, rich in phytochemicals.”


Vasto S, Rizzo C, Caruso C. Centenarians and diet: what they eat in the Western part of Sicily. Immun Ageing. 2012 Apr 23;9(1):10.

Tags: Mediterranean Diet, Longevity

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