AHS-1 helped firmly establish that Adventists are a long-lived population. Compared to other Califonians, participants in AHS-1 had greater longevity. Findings estimated that men in AHS-1 lived 7.3 years longer and AHS-1 women 4.4 years longer, on average than their California counterparts. When looking specifically at vegetarians, Adventist vegetarian men lived 9.5 years longer and women 6.1 years longer than California men and women, respectively.

Perhaps more importantly, researchers identified several simple factors that together predicted large differences in expected longevity among the participants of AHS-1.

Five main factors were identified:

  1. Never having smoked
  2. Having a lower (more normal) body weight
  3. Exercising more often
  4. Following a vegetarian diet
  5. Eating nuts more frequently 

AHS-1 participants who had all of these factors had approximately a 10-year longer life expectancy compared to those with none of these favorable factors. This demonstrated that simple lifestyle factors were able to account for major differences in life expectancy.

This research was published in 2001 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine (now JAMA Internal Medicine) in a scientific paper called “Ten Years of Life: Is It a Matter of Choice?”. In a November 2005 edition of National Geographic titled “The Secrets of Living Longer”, journalist Dan Buettner labeled Loma Linda (along with several other places in the world) as a “Blue Zone”, based on the scientific evidence of longevity among Adventist Health Study - 1 participants.