Poor diets now pose a greater threat to the nation’s health than smoking. Public Health England recently estimated that known risk factors accounted for 39.6% of the disease burden, measured using disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), in England during 2013. Suboptimal diet (10.8% of DALYs) and tobacco (10.7%) imposed most of the burden.1
However, a few hundred miles to the south, recent research reveals the other side of this dietary coin. The studies suggest that the traditional Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of breast cancer,2 depression,3 heart disease4 and even Alzheimer’s disease.5
In the early 1960s, epidemiologists realised that Grecians were surprisingly ancient. In 1961, life expectancy at 45 years of age in Greece was longer than any other national group then followed by the World Health Organization. Thirty years later, despite a culinary shift to a more typical – and less healthy – European diet, life expectancy at 45 years of age in Greece (32.5 years) remained second only to Japan (33.3 years) and well ahead of the UK (30.9 years).6
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