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After five years of the six-year Spanish study into diets, 288 study participants among the 7,500 older "at-risk" adults suffered a heart attack or stroke or died of a type of cardiovascular disease.
Those on both Mediterranean diets were 28 to 30 per cent less likely to develop such health problems those on the general low-fat diet, researchers from the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona found.
Of those suffering health problems:
- 96 were in the olive oil-heavy Mediterranean dietary group (3.4% of participants)
- 83 were in the nut-heavy Mediterranean dietary group (3.4% of participants)
- 109 were in the low-fat dietary group (4.4% of participants)
Adopting a Mediterranean diet can stave off the threat of heart disease and strokes among "at-risk" groups by up to 30% compared to low-fat diets, researchers have said.
Their findings, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest those with diabetes or other heart risks can benefit most from a varied mix of olive oil, nuts, fish and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Spanish researchers tested the continental-style diet against a "control" diet dominated by low-fat dairy products, grains and fruit and vegetables in a five-year study of 7,500 at-risk volunteers.
New Year dieters need to remember to count the calories in alcohol when they are trying to lose weight, a charity said. Slimming is one of the top New Year resolutions, but people often forget the calories in alcoholic drinks.
Cutting down on drinks could help people lose weight which, in turn, could reduce their cancer risk, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). Being overweight is the biggest cancer risk factor, after smoking.