Published in The Guardian
A study found those who had a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fish and oils were a third less likely to die early, compared with those who ate larger quantities of red meat, such as beef, and butter.
Speaking at a global conference on heart disease in Rome, leading heart disease expert Prof Giovanni de Gaetano said: “So far research has focused on the general population, which is mainly composed of healthy people.
“What happens to people who have already suffered from cardiovascular disease? Is the Mediterranean diet optimal for them too?”
The study followed 1,200 people with a history of heart attacks, strokes and blocked arteries over seven years. During that time, 208 patients died but the closer people were to an ideal Mediterranean diet the less likely they were to be among the fatalities.
The conference was told those who ate mainly along Mediterranean lines were 37% less likely to die during the study than those who were furthest from this dietary pattern, after adjusting for age, sex, class, exercise and other habits.
Previously, cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins were believed to be the most effective method of combating heart disease, the leading cause of death in the UK.