In an assessment of nearly 75,000 people aged over 60 in nine European countries, individuals, who followed the Mediterranean diet, enjoyed a seven per cent reduction in the risk of mortality.
A healthy man aged 60, who adhered closely to the diet, could expect to live about a year longer than a man of the same age who did not follow the diet, it found.
The dietary bonus was best in Greece, followed by Spain, Italy and France.
At the other end of the scale were the Netherlands — where mortality among the survey group was more than twice that of Greece – followed by Sweden, Germany and Denmark.
Diets in northern Europe are characterised by higher consumption of potatoes, fatty meats and beer.
The study, headed by Antonia Trichopoulou of the Athens Medical School, is published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).