Red wine and olive oil may be some of the key ingredients for a long life, according to a new study.

The findings provide more evidence the Mediterranean diet may be the secret to a long life.

Scientists from Harvard Medical School tested the resveratol and quercetin molecules on yeast. They speculate since yeast and humans share many genes, the effect may be the same.

Resveratol is abundant in red wine and gives the beverage its anti-heart disease properties. Quercetin is the main molecule in olive oil.

Researchers discovered Quercetin affected those genes that have been known to extend life by enabling cells to live longer.

In the case of resveratrol, it was found to extend the life of some yeast cells by 70 per cent.

By watching the effect of the molecules, scientists are trying to develop drugs that have a similar impact on people.

"We consider this to be a really striking breakthrough," said Dr. Konrad Howitz, one of the study's authors.

Howitz said dosages were integral to the experiment.

"If doses were too high they appeared to have the opposite effect."

Howitz said the research backs up the "potential health benefits" of the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, wine, legumes and nuts.

Previous studies have shown people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean, such as Greece and Italy, tend to live longer than people in other European countries.

The study is published in the journal Nature.