Life expectancy for a male in Australia is 78.7 years, compared to 83.5 years for a female. So why do men die earlier? Experts believe that it is a complex mix of biological, social and behavioural factors. You might not be able to change the genetic and hormonal risk factors but here are some behavioural and lifestyle changes that you can make:

1 Eat nuts:

Researchers who tracked the lifestyle habits of 34,000 Seventh Day Adventists- a population famous for its longevity discovered that those who munched on nuts 5 days a week lived longer.

The 1992 Loma Linda University study also reported that those eating nuts daily had up to 60 per cent fewer heart attacks than those who ate nuts less than once per month. Since then several more studies have linked nuts with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia, and coronary disease.

Tip: Enjoy a handful (30g) of mixed nuts every day to reap the benefits.

2 Watch your waist:

Having a large waistline is a risk factor for various obesity-related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke-which are amongst the top causes of death for Australian males.

Tip: Measure up to ensure that you are in the healthy range. A waist circumference of 94cm or over indicates increased risk of obesity related health conditions.

Studies have also found that being overweight and obese can decrease your life expectancy. For example, Harvard School of Public Health researchers recently estimated that obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and elevated blood glucose together reduce life by 4.9 years in men, with obesity accounting for 1.3 years.

Tip: If you are overweight or want to prevent weight gain, you know the drill. Focus on a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, whole-grains, cut down on high fat, processed foods and exercise for more than 30 minutes a day.

3 Measure your blood pressure:

One in three in Australians has hypertension or persistently high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for life-threatening stroke, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. There are often no symptoms- so don’t wait until something goes wrong.

See your GP for regular checks or check your blood pressure monthly from home with a wrist blood pressure monitor. If your blood pressure is greater than 120/80mmHg, see your doctor.

Tip: Cut down on salt, fatty food, alcohol, and exercise at least 30 minutes per day to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.

4 Keep your mates:

Good friends promise to be there for you, and their presence can actually help you live longer, according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. South Australian researchers looked studied more than 1,500 people over 70 and found that those with the strongest network of friends and acquaintances were 22 per cent less likely to die over the following decade.

5 No risky business:

Compared to women, men are much more likely to engage in risky behaviours, such as smoking, drinking, and driving recklessly, according to researchers from the University of Michigan.

Men are also less likely to see their doctors than women – another very risky behaviour.  Wait too long and it might be too late to treat preventable illnesses.

Tip: If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one or two drinks a day. Avoid other risky behaviours, including smoking, drug abuse, dangerous driving, and unsafe sex.

Tip 2: Have regular medical check-ups and screening tests. This should include an annual blood pressure check, blood cholesterol and triglyceride blood test, blood glucose test, and a bowel, prostate, and skin examination if you are over 50.

6 Go Mediterranean

Eating the Mediterranean way could help you live longer. A 2008 University of Cambridge study found that men whose diets were closest to the Mediterranean ideal were 21 per cent less likely to die over five years than men whose diets were least Mediterranean-like.

A number of studies have linked the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fish, fruits and vegetables and nuts and low in dairy foods and red meat, to being an effective defence against heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.