A recent article in The Guardian – Mediterranean-style diet reduces stroke risk in heart patients – study quotes the results of a research study which had some interesting results. They studied 200 people with heart disease with 100 people on a Mediterranean style diet and compared them with 100 people on a western diet,. Those on the Mediterranean diet had lots of fruit, vegetables, fish and unrefined foods and the others had deep fried food, refined carbohydrates and fizzy drinks. The results showed that after three and a half years there were three fewer heart attacks in the Mediterranean group although the conclusions stated that this shows that it was the fruit and vegetables that made the difference to the risk and not cutting out the unhealthy food. The results were analysed by looking at questionnaires on diet and scoring each participant according to how Mediterranean their diet was in nature and found that those with a higher score had a 7% reduced risk of heart attack, stroke or death.
There were shortcomings in the study as diet was self reported which is known to be inaccurate. It also did not measure calories or fat consumption. There is also evidence from other studies that it is the olive oil in the Mediterranean diet that provides heart protecting benefits. Therefore it is best to be careful what conclusions you take from this type of individual study. It is also worth remembering that we are all individuals and it could be that certain diets suit us better than they might suit other people. Dieting may or may not be a waste of time, but picking healthy foods to eat certainly is not. There is certainly a lot of evidence that avoiding sugary processed foods and eating lots of fruits and vegetables is healthy and the evidence here seems to back that up to some extent and so is worth noting.