Following a Mediterranean diet with plenty of olive oil and nuts has been found to be almost as good at reducing the risk of a heart attack as taking statins, according to researchers.
They believe a diet of fish, chicken, fruit and vegetables is "better than a drug" because it does not have side effects, while cholesterol-lowering statins can cause problems like muscle cramps, the Telegraph reported.
They conclusions is based on a five-year study in Spain, which compared the effects of three different types of diet on the chance of having a first heart attack or stroke in almost 7,500 people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Two of the diets were variations of the Mediterranean diet, one supplemented with nuts and the other with extra-virgin olive oil. The third was a low-fat diet.
The results showed that participants assigned to the Mediterranean-type diets had a 30 per cent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke over five years, than those randomly selected for the low fat diet.
They were also less likely to drop out - perhaps because they were enjoying their food more.
"Diet works," said Dr. Ramon Estruch of Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, who led the study, which has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Because the Mediterranean regime had no side effects, he concluded: "We think diet is better than a drug."
"Extra virgin olive oil and nuts were probably responsible for most of the observed benefits of the Mediterranean diets," they wrote in the journal. (ANI)