Live longer — and better — by breaking this diet “rule”

There’s a reason I’m always bombarding you with news that supports the recommendations I make to you — and it’s not because I’m patting myself on the back.

It’s because I know first-hand how frustrating it is to be ahead of the curve when it comes to nutrition advice — especially in a world where low-fat, low-salt, and low-protein guidelines still reign supreme.

So if I can provide you with ammunition to fire back at friends, family, colleagues, even doctors who try to convince you that you should be following “the rules,” I’m going to do it, every chance I get.

And today is going to be one of those days. Because I’ve got yet another reality check for the naysayers out there who still insist that eating “too much” fat is bad for you.

Get this: A new review found that a Mediterranean diet without any restrictions on fat intake may cut your risk of a whole laundry list of lethal diseases — including heart attack and stroke, all types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

What more do I need to say? I could just stop writing now.

But I’m not going to. Because this is critical information for the American public to hear. We’re talking about the leading causes of death in the country — all of which have skyrocketed over the last 20 years.

And we can thank the Standard American Diet (SAD) — packed with sugar and refined grains — for that horrifying statistic.

It’s the SAD that’s been rocketing risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. I know this…you know this. So why are public health officials still so hung up on getting people to cut out fat, salt, and protein? How many more people have to die just so Big Pharma and Big Agribusiness can keep making money?

Because let’s be clear: If the U.S. dietary guidelines were based on science (instead of profit margins) they’d look nothing like they do today. Instead, they’d bear a much stronger resemblance to the kind of Mediterranean diet this latest study looked at.

Just to refresh your memory, the Mediterranean diet is based on lean protein and fish, vegetables, moderate dairy intake, and a hefty serving of monounsaturated fats (typically in the form of olive oil).

In fact, fat constitutes up to 40 percent of all daily calories for most people who follow this type of diet. And yet, a number of clinical studies show that it keeps you healthier and lengthens your life. Imagine that!

In fact, in this latest review, researchers didn’t impose any restrictions on total fat intake for their definition of a “Mediterranean” diet. But they did look for at least two or more of the following characteristics: high ratio of monounsaturated fat to other types of fats, high intake of fruits and veggies, high intake of legumes, moderate red wine drinking, moderate intake of dairy products, and a preference toward fish over meat.

Granted, it’s not my exact interpretation of a Mediterranean diet. I believe you’re better off ditching red wine in favor of clear spirits, which have just as many health benefits, but less sugar. And I also don’t worry so much about my patients’ meat consumption — as long as they’re getting it from organic, grass-fed-and-finished sources.

But still, I certainly can’t argue the diet used in this study is a far sight better than what most Americans are eating on a daily basis.

Ultimately, the researchers used data from 56 different studies to reach their conclusions. And their findings were exactly what you might expect.

At least one large trial showed that Mediterranean diets slash risk of cardiovascular events and diabetes by 30 percent, and risk of breast cancer by nearly 60 percent. Meanwhile, pooled data revealed that this way of eating cuts overall cancer incidence by 4 percent. And that it reduces total cancer deaths by 14 percent.

But the proverbial cherry on top comes in directly from one of the study authors:

“[W]hat we found in our study is that healthy diets can include a lot of fat, especially if it’s healthy fat; and the emphasis in the United States at least for the past thirty years has been [that] it’s important to reduce fat — fat of all kind — fat’s the bad thing. It turns out that the obesity epidemic in this country is probably more due to our increased consumption of refined grains and added sugar and not so much from our fat consumption,”

Truer words have never been spoken. And I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that, at long last, someone other than me saying them.