The Life-Saving Properties of the Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Plate | Photo: eyeliam/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The first thought that ran through my head while reading this long and amazing story from the New York Times magazine, "The Island Where People Forget to Die," was: PANIC! There's an island of zombie people out there! And for those of us who have seen George A. Romero's "Land of the Dead," you know zombies will eventually learn they don't need to breath anymore -- seeing as they're dead and all -- and simply walk across the ocean floor to reach us and chow down on our brains. So, run! Stockpile weapons! Get off the grid! The undead apocalypse is upon us!

And then I got to the first paragraph and realized the piece was about a different kind of diet.

The profile is about the 8,000 or so residents of Ikaria, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, who live quite a bit longer than the world's average, are still active as they get old, and remain sharp until their dying day. An idealized existence for most of us. The added years are so drastic, in fact, the island was the subject of a study to find out just why they live so long. Seeing as the information must be something that's translatable to the rest of the world -- you can't just tell everyone to pick up and move to Ikaria -- their findings focused on the diets of the island dwellers:

A classic "Mediterranean diet," in other words. Among the other findings is that residents drink, on average, 2 to 3.5 glasses of wine a day, to go along with 10 ounces of coffee. Also, they consume "traditional Greek remedies" instead of relying on pharmaceutical cures.

Of course, diet isn't the only thing that matters. A calm lifestyle also seems to play an important role:

Which is to say, guess all those people who believe cellphones are killing us might be onto something. Maybe not through radioactivity and brain tumors, as much as keeping us from getting in our much-needed naps.

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