London, July 2 : The benefits of a Mediterranean diet are not just confined to healthy weight loss. According to a new research, the diet rich in fruit and vegetables can also cut the risk of cancer by 12 per cent.
The diet, reports the British Journal of Cancer, also includes higher amounts of fruits, vegetables, cereals, and less red meat.
The Mediterranean diet came under scrutiny after researchers noticed lower rates of illnesses such as heart disease in countries such as Spain and Greece.
They noticed that people living there generally ate more vegetables and fish, less red meat, cooked in olive oil and drank moderate amounts of alcohol.
The latest study is one of the largest yet to look at the potential impact on cancer of the various parts of this diet.
Researchers from Harvard University persuaded thousands of Greek people of various ages to record their food intake over an eight-year-period.
Their adherence to the Mediterranean diet was ranked using a scoring system, and the group with the worst score compared with those who followed a couple of aspects of the diet, and those who followed it the most closely.
The biggest effect they found - a 9 percent reduction in risk - was achieved simply by eating more "unsaturated" fats such as olive oil.
But just two changes - eating less red meat, and more peas, beans and lentils, cut the risk of cancer by 12 percent.
"Adjusting one's overall dietary habits towards the traditional Mediterranean pattern had an important effect," BBC quoted Dr Dimitrios Trichopoulos, the study's lead author, as saying.
Sara Hiom, from Cancer Research UK, said the research highlighted the importance of a healthy balanced diet.
"It shows there are a number of things you can do, and there is no one 'superfood' that can stop you developing the disease," Hiom said.