Bust out the olive oil, fruits and veggies turns out eating a Mediterranean diet could help save lives.
Results of a new study performed in Norfolk, England suggested that following a Mediterranean diet could prevent over 19,000 deaths a year in the UK.
Though health benefits associated with Mediterranean diets in the Mediterranean region are well-known, this study sought to establish whether the diet could improve health if it were to be adopted by people living in other areas, such as the U.K.
The study, published in the journal of BMC Medicine on Thursday, gathered data on eating habits of around 24,000 people in Norfolk for 12 to 17 years, beginning in the 1990s. The researchers ultimately found that 12.5 percent of heart attack and stroke-related deaths that occurred in the UK could have been prevented by dietary changes, if their findings are generalizable across the UK population and the assumption of a diet-driven causality of heart attacks and strokes is correct.
The study therefore suggests, but does not conclusively find, that a whopping 19,375 deaths could be preventable in the UK if people were to adhere more closely to the Mediterranean diet.
Though the word “diet” often leads to thoughts of sacrificing beloved foods, the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid shows that you can still eat some of your favorite foods daily, like bread, for example. People who follow this food regimen can also eat sweets, starches and meats in moderation, and even enjoy an occasional glass of wine.
Researchers made use of the pyramid’s guidelines during the study to determine a points system for each food family. Once they determined the top possible score was a diet containing 15 Mediterranean elements, they noticed that the maximum score amongst study participants was 13.1 and the lowest was 3.
After looking at additional factors such as smoking, weight and physical activity, they determined that people who incorporated more Mediterranean diet elements into their lives were less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
Nita Forouhi, an author of the study from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, confirmed that adopting the eating habits of the Mediterranean diet has its health benefits. Forouhi told The Telegraph: “Encouraging greater adoption of the Mediterranean dietlooks like a promising component 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.”
Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher and emeritus fellow at the Institute of Food Research who was not involved in the new study,told The Telegraph, “This is a careful and rigorous study showing a relatively small but potentially important association between higher adherence to aMediterraneanstyledietand reduced risk of incident heart disease, and death from heart disease.”
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