A Mediterranean style diet followed by villagers from a remote area of Sicily may help people lead a healthy life and live up to 100 years or more.
According to the research, we should all eat a healthy "Mediterranean-style" diet, slashing levels of saturated fat and consuming high amounts of fruits and vegetables.
AdvertisementThe diet could add decades to lifespans and protect against heart disease and stroke as well as a number of other chronic diseases including cancer and dementia.
Scientists from the University of Palermo in Sicily studied people living in five villages in the island's Sicani Mountains region.
There, four times as many people live to be over 100 than the national average.
The researchers, whose work is published in the journal Immunity and Ageing, found the centenarians tended to be physically active, non-obese, and small in stature.
To reach successful ageing it is advisable to follow a diet with low quantity of saturated fat and high amount of fruits and vegetables rich in phytochemicals.
They live on a high intake of seasonal plant food and low amounts of meat, consuming low levels of refined carbohydrate, so eating no white bread and small amounts of pasta.
They don't use sweeteners or consume sweet beverages, canned food frozen ready-prepared vegetables, biscuits, cakes or snacks.
They also have a substantial intake of olive and virgin olive oil from different local olive plants which seem to have important antioxidant properties.
"To reach successful ageing it is advisable to follow a diet with low quantity of saturated fat and high amount of fruits and vegetables rich in phytochemicals," the Daily Express quoted the author's as writing.
These are potent, biologically-active plant chemicals known to have cancer-killing properties and which can help protect against heart disease.
Previous studies have also hailed a healthy diet as being vital to living a long life. Last year, researchers revealed seven easy steps, which can pave the way to a "90 per cent chance" of reaching 100.