A study has proved what has been believed for sometime, that following a strict Mediterranean diet offers protection against heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Experts from the University of Florence looked into existing studies on the health gains of eating a diet rich in in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish, but low in meat, dairy and alcohol.
The new study suggests that a "score" based on adherence to the Mediterranean diet could be used as a tool for helping cut the chance of people dying prematurely and from a range of diseases.
Researchers looked at 12 studies on more than 1.5 million people and found that following a Mediterranean diet reduced the overall risk of dying early by 9%.
The chance of dying from cancer fell by 6% and the chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, by 9%.
The diet also resulted in a 13% reduction in the incidence of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the authors said: "Greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant improvement in health status.
"These results seem to be clinically relevant for public health, in particular for encouraging a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for primary prevention of major chronic diseases."