Eating Mediterranean diet in UK 'can reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes'

People in the UK who eat as if they live in the Mediterranean can significantly reduce their risk of a stroke or heart attack, research has shown.

Scientists - who conducted the first study of its kind - found Mediterranean-type eating habits were up to 16% less likely to suffer damage to their hearts or arteries than those who did not.

They concluded 12.5% of cardiovascular deaths could be avoided if more Britons changed their diets.

Typically, people in Mediterranean countries only consume moderate amounts of dairy products, fish, poultry and wine.

What is a Mediterranean diet?

File photo of vegetables on a chopping board. Credit: PA
  • Fruit

  • Vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Nuts

  • Olive oil

  • Little red meat

Lead researcher Dr Nita 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."

Dr Forouhi's team at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University gathered data from 23,902 healthy Britons whose data had been monitored for 12 to 17 years.