A new study published in the November 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine reports that those who eat a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains have better odds of staying healthy while aging than those who don’t. More specifically, a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk for complications associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease while also improving cognitive function later in life.

The study followed over 10,600 female participants between the ages of 30 and 55 who completed mail-in surveys about their diets and the types of foods they consumed. The study began in 1976, and the women were followed up with on a regular basis through 2001.

When researchers analyzed the data from all surveys and assessments issued to the study participants throughout the years, they found that those who practiced Mediterranean diets were far healthier and experienced fewer complications than those who ate other types of foods.

Women who turned 70 years old during the study were tested on cognitive function. It was found that those who ate Mediterranean foods scored significantly higher in cognition than those who ate diets higher in processed foods, red meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

In conclusion, researchers state that in addition to contributing to healthy aging, a Mediterranean diet can result in improved cognition, a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular events, a 20% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and slowed progression of carotid plaque, among multiple other benefits.