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Mediterranean diet promotes weight loss and prevents cancer and heart disease

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The Mediterranean diet promotes weight loss and protects against heart disease and cancer.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. The diet is based on the traditional eating plans of Italian, Greek, Spanish, and other Mediterranean cultures.

The Mediterranean diet, which was rated No. 3 on the list of Best Diets of 2014, is considered by many nutritionists as the best for enhancing heart health and preventing diabetes.

A recent five-year study by the University of Navarra in Spain found the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent.

"We were surprised because of the great magnitude [of the link between the diet and heart-disease prevention]," Miguel Martínez-Gonzalez, who led the study, told NPR. "This is a very important step in confirming a truly causal relationship between the [Mediterranean-style diet] and cardiovascular protection."

The study examined 8,000 men and women in their 60s and 70s and found that individuals on the Mediterranean diet had dramatically less buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries compared with those followed a low-fat diet.

Previous studies also showed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet also had fewer degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes and dementia and lived longer than those who followed other eating plans.

"Dancing With the Stars" host Brooke Burke Charvet credits the Mediterranean diet for her sizzling body at 42. We try to eat a Mediterranean diet — lots of greens, lots of fish, lots of vegetables," said Burke Charvet.

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