A Mediterranean diet that is rich in fat can help lower your risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast cancer, a new study confirmed.
But it's not just any fat. The health benefits stem from "healthy" fats such as fatty fish, eggs, olive oil and nuts.
According to Dr. Hanna Bloomfield, the study's lead author, more studies are needed to determine why some foods in a high-fat Mediterranean diet are linked to lower risks of developing certain ailments. This could be because of the anti-inflammatory effects, added Bloomfield, a lead researcher at the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research.
"It is not known but may be because of an anti-inflammatory effect," added Bloomfield. The new findings support the list of benefits that Mediterranean diet provides. The research was released in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
For the study, the researchers analyzed 332 previously published studies and focused on 56 papers for a deeper look into the said benefits of a high-fat Mediterranean diet. Some examples of healthy fats or mono-unsaturated fats include canola oil, olive oil and avocados. On the other hand, unhealthy fats or trans and saturated fats are the ones found in potato chips.
In the study, the researchers' description of a Mediterranean diet is one with no fat intake restrictions and includes two or more of these seven elements.
1. High healthy-to-unhealthy fat ratio. The high mono-unsaturated fat ratio can result from using olive oil as the main ingredient in cooking.
2. High intake of vegetables and fruits.
3. High intake of leafy, dark green vegetables such as broccoli.
4. High intake of cereals and grains.
5. Moderate consumption of red wine.
6. Moderate intake of dairy products.
7. Increased intake of fish but low consumption of red meat and other meat products.
The researchers found that while a high-fat Mediterranean diet does not have an effect on overall mortality, it can benefit people in reducing the risk of developing certain diseases.
Bloomfield said that this could be because people who take on diets with fat restrictions get their calories more from sugar and unrefined grains. Based on the findings, Bloomfield advised that people should add more healthy fats to their diets such as olive oil, nuts and avocados.
In an earlier, separate study, another group of researchers found that a Mediterranean diet can also help heart disease patients reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes in a large-scale study that involved more than 15,000 participants from 39 countries.