Mediterranean diet, not calorie counting, is key to good health

Eating a high-fat Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil nuts and oily fish, is more beneficial to your health than counting calories, according to Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool.

In an Editorial published in the BMJ Open Heart journal, Professor Capewell writes that focusing on a nutritionally based diet that includes healthy fats rather than simplistically reducing calorie intake is more beneficial to people’s health. It also cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke and other diseases.

He said: “It is time to stop counting calories, and time to instead promote good nutrition and dietary changes that can rapidly and substantially reduce cardiovascular mortality.”

Increased risk

The article points out that a can of cola a day, at 150 calories, is associated with a significantly increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, while four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day, at around 500 calories, has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

The rising costs of obesity and Type 2 diabetes are highlighted by the article authors. They already costs the NHS over £10 billion a year and total UK costs exceed £30 billion; both are predicted to double in the next 20 years.

Controls on junk food

Professor Capewell added: “The most powerful and effective policies include a duty on sugary drinks, and subsidies to increase the affordability and availability of healthier foods such as vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Plus controls on the marketing of junk foods and clear package labelling to help consumers.”

The article `It is time to stop counting calories, and time instead to promote dietary changes that substantially and rapidly reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality’ is written by Aseem Malhotra, Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey, James J DiNicolantonio, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Missouri, US and Professor Simon Capewell from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society.


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