The Mediterranean diet is no fad diet. It’s a way of life for many people, and studies have shown it’s good for the body. New research finds it’s good for the mind, too.

The diet is loaded with fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil and nuts. A recent study found it may be one key to long life. Other research finds the Mediterranean diet reduces weight and cholesterol. It’s been linked to lower risk of illness and increased wellbeing.

The new study finds people on the Mediterranean diet scored higher on a quality of life questionnaire in terms of physical and mental wellbeing. The link was even stronger in terms of physical quality of life.

"The Mediterranean diet is an important factor associated with better quality of life and can be considered as a healthy food model,” said study researcher Patricia Henríquez Sánchez of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. "The progressive aging of the population in developed countries makes it even more interesting to find out those factors that can increase quality of life and the health of the population.”

The research involved data on more than 11,000 university students over a period of four years. Dietary intake data was taken at the beginning of the study and self-perceived quality of life was measured after the four year monitoring period. In order to ascertain whether the Mediterranean diet was followed, consumption of vegetables, pulses, fruit, nuts, cereals and fish was positively valued whereas consumption of meat, diary products and alcohol was negatively valued.

Henríquez explained how the Mediterranean diet works:

Main meals should never lack three basic elements: cereals, fruit and vegetables and dairy products. Furthermore, it must include a daily intake of 1.5 and 2 liters of water. Olive oil constitutes the main source of fat for its nutritional quality and moderate consumption of wine and other fermented beverages is recommended.

Fish, lean meat and eggs are sources of high quality animal protein. Fish and seafood are also sources of healthy fats.

At the top of the pyramid are sugar, sweets, cakes, pastries and sweetened beverages that should be consumed occasionally and in small amounts.