OLIVE oil and salads - better known as the Mediterranean diet - may be a better way of cutting obesity than calorie counting, according to a prestigious journal.
Writing in the 'Postgraduate Medical Journal' (PMJ), a team of doctors argued that a Mediterranean diet quickly reduced the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
And they said it may be better than low-fat diets for sustained weight loss. Governments around the world have been highlighting the growing problem of obesity and the health challenges it presents.
The PMJ editorial argues a focus on food intake is the best approach, but it warns crash dieting is harmful.
The signatories of the piece criticised the weight-loss industry for focusing on calorie restriction rather than "good nutrition".
And they make the case for a Mediterranean diet, including fruit and vegetables, nuts and olive oil, citing research suggesting it quickly reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and may be better than low-fat diets for sustained weight loss.
Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said the scientific evidence was overwhelming.
"What's more responsible is that we tell people to concentrate on eating nutritious foods.
"It's going to have an impact on their health very quickly.
"We know the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is higher in fat - proven from randomised controlled trials - reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke even within months of implementation," added Dr Malhotra.
The article also said that adopting a Mediterranean diet after a heart attack was almost three times as effective at reducing deaths as taking cholesterol-lowering statin medication.