Enjoying the Mediterranean diet? Here’s how you could slash your risk of heart disease

Researchers in Italy and the Netherlands say a great deal of healthy eating is well established, so the challenge for us is to do it at a low cost and without compromising other dietary habits.

And they have the evidence to back it up! Their study in two lists of traditional recipes found that by reducing their red meat intake and portion sizes, they could dramatically reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.

On average, Italians were putting away 35.6g of saturated fat, 13.3g of added sugars and 22.1g of cholesterol daily. In the Netherlands, people ate an average of 14.4g of saturated fat daily, 19.5g of added sugars and 21.3g of cholesterol.

However, having cut their fats by eight per cent and their sugar intake by ten per cent, their cholesterol count dropped from 17.2 to 9.5g a day. Reducing their portion sizes by 10 per cent and reducing their added sugars by five per cent meant that they upped their cholesterol level to 14.7g a day.

While it was acceptable that Italians ate a little more tomato sauce and pasta, it was obvious that they would lose lots of calories in doing so – without cutting other food out, the total fat intake fell from nearly 3,000 calories a day to just 800.

The authors, quoting work from other research, said that those who increased their saturated fat intake by seven per cent and added added sugars by five per cent were 22 per cent less likely to die of heart disease or stroke compared to those who reduced their fat intake and maintained their sugar intake.

On average, they started with another 7.3mg of cholesterol a day, dropping to 2.8mg when their fat intake was reduced and maintained their sugar intake at six per cent. They slashed their risk of the disease by 10 per cent.

Europe is an average of 2,000 calories over-intended every day, and this adds up to nearly five pounds a year.

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