A study of the eating habits of 23,000 Greeks over nearly a decade has found that the most beneficial part of following the "Mediterranean diet" is the consumption of large quantities of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and olive oil.

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WEDNESDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- Some components of a Mediterranean diet may be more vital to good health than others, a new report suggests.

Not all items on the Mediterranean diet are equally beneficial, study shows

A study from researchers at the University of Athens Medical School links longer life to consuming large quantities of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and olive oil, keeping alcohol intake moderate and avoiding too much meat. Meanwhile, eating lots of fish or seafood and going light on dairy products does not seem to increase longevity.

The authors of the study, which examined the eating habits of more than 23,000 Greeks over nearly a decade, said many of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet were negated when their analysis removed heavy vegetable consumption, light meat intake or moderate drinking. Combining several components, such as having a diet rich in vegetables and olive oil, showed health benefits.

Following a Mediterranean diet, so-called because it is based on the traditional eating habits of those in that region of the world, has been shown to improve health and help people live longer in several studies, but this report -- appearing June 23 in the online edition of BMJ -- analyzes the main components of the diet.

Note: In no circumstances does Down to Earth condone, encourage or support the eating of meat, fish or alcohol consumption, which are also a part of the Mediterranean diet. However, if people are going to eat meat or drink alcohol, eating and drinking less of them, as the proponents of the Mediterranean diet suggest, is good.