Another Dozen Reasons To Try The Mediterranean Diet

Olive oil, fruit and vegetables could be key in the fight against heart disease, says study.

Food fads come and go, but there's one diet with proven health benefits which could change the way many people eat.

A new study has found that following a Mediterranean diet could prevent thousands of deaths in the UK, the Guardian reports.

Research carried out by Cambridge University suggests deaths caused by heart attacks and strokes could be reduced by 12.5 per cent - that's 19,000 people - if a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and olive oil is consumed.

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Scientists collected data on the eating habits of over 24,000 people over 12 to 17 years to analyse the relationship between a Mediterranean diet and the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease. To establish which foods were classed as "Mediterranean," the scientists referred to the Mediterranean diet pyramid to score the participants' diets from one to 15. Those with higher scores were found to be less likely to suffer from heart disease.

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"We estimate that 3.9% of all new cardiovascular disease cases or 12.5% of cardiovascular deaths in our UK-based study population could potentially be avoided if this population increased their adherence to the Mediterranean diet," Dr Nita Forouhi, lead author from the Medical Research Council epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge, confirmed.

According to Forouhi, the key to this diet, which promotes eating fish and dairy with very small amounts of red meat, is focusing on variety rather than cutting out a single food type, like fats or sugar.

"It is very much more a balance across the range of foods available to us," she added.

It's time to start counting your five a day.

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