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A new study of monkeys suggests that a low-calorie diet probably won't help extend our lives. But a long life is not necessarily a healthy life; in that regard, the study offers more-reassuring news.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health tracked a colony of rhesus monkeys for more than 20 years. They found that the animals with a restricted caloric intake had the same life span as monkeys who ate without restriction.

Previous studies found that rats and mice lived as much as 40 percent longer if they ate 40 percent less than their counterparts. Unfortunately, humans are a lot more like monkeys than mice.

The better news is that the low-cal monkeys had lower rates of diabetes and cancer. Some also had lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose levels -- and they looked younger.

The lesson for humans still is that if living well is the goal, a low-calorie diet is a healthy way to achieve it.