Aseem Malhotra

Aseem Malhotra, an Indian-origin doctor from the Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, says that a high fat Mediterranean-type diet and lifestyle is associated with a significantly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. (Aseem Malhotra/Twitter photo)

LONDON — A high fat Mediterranean-type diet, which includes omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil and nuts, is good for your heart and overall health, say experts, including an Indian-origin doctor.

They said it was time to stop counting calories and instead start promoting the nutritional value of foods to cut illness and heart disease and to curb obesity.

“But clinicians have failed to act for far too long amid an excessive focus on the calorific content of food by food and weight loss industries, despite mounting evidence that it’s the nutritional content that matters,” said Aseem Malhotra from the Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.

The daily consumption of a sugary drink (150 calories) is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas the daily consumption of a handful of nuts or four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (around 500 calories) is associated with a significantly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

“Shifting the focus away from calories and emphasizing a dietary pattern that focuses on food quality rather than quantity will help to rapidly reduce obesity, related diseases and cardiovascular risk,” said James Dinicolantonio from Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas.

Evidence shows that a poor diet was consistently responsible for more disease and death than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol put together, the researchers said, calling for sugary drinks to be taxed.

“Recommending a high fat Mediterranean-type diet and lifestyle to our patients, friends and families might be a good place to start,” Malhotra said.

The findings were published in the online journal Open Heart.

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