The popular diet that could cut heart disease risk in women, according to experts

A Mediterranean diet cuts women’s cardiovascular disease risk by nearly a quarter. Credit: PA

Ditching processed meats and following a Mediterranean diet could cut the risk of heart disease by 24% for women, according to experts.

Sticking to meals consisting of nuts, seafood, whole grains and vegetables, has been linked to a number of health benefits, with another recent study suggesting people who follow the diet have a reduced risk of developing dementia in later life.

The latest research, published in the journal Heart, pulls together 16 studies on women following Mediterranean diets, cardiovascular disease and their risk of dying during the follow-up period.

The data covers more than 720,000 women whose cardiovascular health was monitored for an average of 12.5 years.

The team, led by academics from the University of Sydney in Australia, found women who had a “high adherence” to a Mediterranean diet were 24% less likely to have cardiovascular disease.

They were also 23% less likely to die from any cause during the follow-up period.

How to switch to a Mediterranean diet

Try to cut down on:

  • processed meat

  • salt

  • sweet treats

Instead opt for:

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables

  • beans

  • lentils

  • wholegrains

  • fish

  • nuts and seeds

  • some low-fat dairy

  • some fat from unsaturated sources like olive oil

Commenting on the study, Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s long been known that eating a Mediterranean-style diet is good for your heart, but it’s encouraging to see this research suggest that when we look at women separately from men, the benefits remain.

“Heart disease is often seen as a male problem but coronary heart disease kills more than twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK each year.

“Sex-specific research like this is vital for reducing the heart disease gender gap and improving women’s care."

“Whatever your gender, a healthy lifestyle which includes a balanced diet like the Mediterranean-style diet can help you to lower your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases and the risk factors for them, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol."

In a separate study, researchers, led by experts at Newcastle University, found that people who followed a strict Mediterranean diet had a 23% lower risk of developing dementia compared to those who had a low adherence score.

The findings published in the journal BMC Medicine were based on data from more than 60,000 individuals from the UK Biobank – an online database of medical and lifestyle records of more than half a million Britons.

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