Britons who eat a Mediterranean diet could significantly lower their risk of developing heart disease, according to new research.
Scientists found healthy people who ate more foods associated with a Mediterranean-style diet were up to 16 per cent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who did not.
The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine and which was the first of its kind to analyse the benefits of the diet in Britons, also found eating Mediterranean-style could decrease the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Around 12.5 per cent of cardiovascular deaths in the UK could potentially be avoided if British people switched to a Mediterranean diet, Dr Nita Forouhi, lead author from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, said.
Traditionally, the Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and olive oil, low in red meats and has moderate quantities of dairy, fish, poultry and wine.
Researchers collected data from 23,902 healthy Britons, whose diets were measured using food frequency questioners.
The best diets: according to the experts
The best diets: according to the experts
1/10 Flexitarian Diet
The combination of flexible and vegetarian. This diet is all about adding things to your diet, not taking them away. By adding more tofu, beans, fruits, veggies, eggs, whole grains and seeds to your diet you should feel full on fewer calories.
Flickr / Brian
2/10 DASH Diet
Ranked at number one, the DASH diet was developed to prevent and lower high blood pressure by reducing salt intake.
Flickr / Dubravko Sorić
3/10 TLC Diet
Created to cut high cholesterol and endorsed by the American Heart Association.
4/10 Mayo Clinic diet
Focuses on everything you were told to eat as a child: whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
Flickr / Rochelle
5/10 Mediterranean Diet
Eat as the Mediterranean people do: A diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fats but high in produce and nuts. And lots of olives.
Flickr / Meal Makeover Moms
6/10 Weight Watchers
Works with a points system where healthy foods have fewer points. Group meetings offer emotional support and encouragement, meaning it has been a successful program since 1963.
Flickr / Mike Mozart
7/10 Volumetrics Diet
Works on the idea that people eat roughly the same amount every day, regardless of the calories. So this diet is all about the approach to eating rather than a structured diet. It divides food into four groups depending on their energy density. For example, more veggies on top of pasta instead of cheese.
Flickr / Jennifer
8/10 Jenny Craig
For encouragement, on this diet you get a meal plan and a counselling session every week with a consultant. You get three meals a day, including French toast, but unfortunately you can’t really go out for meals.
Flickr / Dennis Wilkinson
9/10 Biggest Loser Diet
Eat regular meals with whole grains, fruit, vegetables and lean protein, get more exercise and keep a food journal. Fairly simple.
Flickr / Pete Thomas
10/10 Ornish Diet
Developed by Dean Ornish in his 2007 book “The Spectrum”. He categorizes food in to five groups from most (1) to least (5) healthy. He pinpoints emotional support as a powerful tool for weight loss.
Flickr / kris krüg
The participants were monitored for an average of 12 to 17 years to investigate the association between a Mediterranean diet and the occurrence of new-onset cardiovascular disease and deaths during that time.
The Mediterranean diet was defined using a 15-point score based on guideline recommendations from a Mediterranean diet pyramid published by the Mediterranean Diet Foundation.
The research supports previous studies which acknowledge the health benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet.
In August, a study by the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Italy, found a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fish and oils cut the chances of early death in heart patients by 37 per cent.
It said eating these foods could be even more effective than cholesterol-lowering drugs.
In June, research conducted on more than 300 women with early-stage breast cancer suggested a Mediterranean diet may play an important role in cutting cancer risk.
Dr Forouhi said: “The benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular health are well documented in countries of the Mediterranean region, but this is the first study to evaluate this in the UK.
“If our findings are broadly representative of the overall UK population, then we can assume that higher level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet could have significant impact in lowering the cardiovascular disease burden in the UK.”
“Encouraging greater adoption of the Mediterranean diet looks like a promising component of a of a wider strategy to help prevent cardiovascular disease, including other important factors such as not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, blood cholesterol and blood pressure.”Reuse content