Editor’s note: This story was originally published May 2, 2023.

The Mediterranean diet has recently been linked with lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes, but did you know that some studies have found that there are other health benefits that come from eating the olive oil and protein based diet?

Here’s what we know.

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What are three benefits of the Mediterranean diet? Harvard’s School of Public Health published a diet review that found the Mediterranean diet to be “a healthy eating pattern for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, increasing lifespan and healthy aging.”

The journal Clinical Interventions in Aging published an article that found “the traditional Mediterranean diet, of which olive oil is the principal source of fat, encompasses these dietary characteristics,” of foods that offer health benefits to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Along with cardiovascular health, the Mediterranean diet has reportedly been linked with helping people age with a more youthful appearance and can protect people against brain atrophy.

A postdoctoral fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine and the author of a study linking aging benefits and the Mediterranean diet, Marta Crous Bou, told The Harvard Gazette, “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.”

Another study published in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care reported that the Mediterranean diet is also linked to increasing a person’s life span, detailing, “The Mediterranean diet represents the gold standard in preventative medicine, probably due to the harmonic combination of many elements with antioxidant and antiinflamatory properties.”

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Why is this important to know? About 90% of Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet, according to 2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The New York Times reported that Dr. Sean Heffron, a preventative cardiologist at NYU Langone Health, said, “It’s one of a small number of diets that has research to back it up.”

Heffron continued, “It isn’t a diet that was cooked up in the mind of some person to generate money. It’s something that was developed over time, by millions of people, because it actually tastes good. And it just happens to be healthy.”

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What can you eat in the Mediterranean diet? The Deseret News reported that the Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that has been influenced by components of Italian and Greek food.

“Although there are no strict rules or regulations for the diet, it typically encourages fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy fats. Processed foods, added sugar, and refined grains should be restricted,” according to Healthline.

The Mediterranean Dish reported that the general Mediterranean diet plate consists of 75% carbohydrates that includes 50% nonstarchy carbs and 25% starchy carbs, 25% proteins and fats with a “drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.”