It has something to do with a diet and lifestyle you've probably heard about.
Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

A Mediterranean-style diet has been a staple of the Spanish lifestyle for centuries—but Americans are just now catching on to why this approach is incredibly beneficial for your health.

The Mediterranean diet, which stems from the coastal cuisine found throughout Spain, Greece, Italy, France, and Northern Africa, has previously been shown to aid cardiovascular health and greatly reduce risks of obesity and related conditions, including type-2 diabetes.

But new research finds that the Mediterranean diet's greatest health asset might actually be adding extra years to your life.

According to the Global Burden of Disease study published in the Lancet medical journal last month, Spain is set to become the country with the longest life expectancy by 2040, with citizens living an average of 85.8 years. Currently, Japan holds the designation of highest life expectancy with an average of 85.7 years. Other nations with high life expectancies include Portugal, Singapore, and Switzerland—the U.S. isn't even in the top 50, for comparison.

The research was conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the IHME at the University of Washington, told the Guardian that the key to living as long as the Spanish lies in their lifestyle—particularly their diet.

Murray believes that the most significant health threats facing Americans are alcohol and tobacco use, obesity, high blood sugar, and hypertension (otherwise known as high blood pressure). Many of these issues can be addressed through proper diet, especially with a heart-healthy lifestyle like the Mediterranean diet, something that Americans could learn from Spain's leading example.More on how to incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your own routine:

The guiding staples of the Mediterranean diet prioritize amounts of organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plenty of protein-rich fish, and a heavy reliance on olive oil. Previously published research on the Mediterranean diet suggests that the diet can revitalize your health even if you don't start until you're over 65 years old, making this a sensible diet plan for anyone—at any age—interested in improving their health overall.

In an age where diets come in and out of style frequently (just like many of 2018's hottest diets), the Mediterranean diet seems to be a lifestyle that stands the test of time—and could help you do so, too.