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Mediterranean diet outperformed low-fat diet in study

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)

Mediterranean diet cuts heart disease risk, study finds

A blend of Mediterranean diet foods was best for a healthy heart, researchers said. Credit: Roman Marzinger/CHROMORANGE/DPA/Press Association Images

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.

Calories in alcohol often ignored by New Year dieters

People often forget the calories in alcoholic drinks. Credit: Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire

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.

Swinson's letter to magazine editors

Jo Swinson's letter to magazine editors reads:

Dear Editors,

Every January readers are treated to articles reminding them that they have overindulged during the end-of-year festivities and must resolve to lose their holiday weight.

I am sure that you want to promote a healthy lifestyle for your readers but at this time of year in particular far too much magazine coverage tends to focus on irresponsible, short term solutions and encourages readers to jump on fad diet bandwagons.

As editors you owe more to your readers than the reckless promotion of unhealthy solutions to losing weight.

If your aim is to give practical, sensible advice about losing weight – and not how to drop a stone in five days – you should encourage reasonable expectations, instead of dangerous ones, along with exercise and healthy eating.

So may I suggest a New Year’s resolution for 2013? Shed the fad diets and fitness myths on your pages and instead celebrate the beauty of diversity in body shape, skin colour, size and age.

I think your readers will appreciate it.

– Jo Swinson, Women and Equalities Minister
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