THE Mediterranean diet has been crowned the healthiest nutritional plan to follow by a panel of doctors, nutritionists and fitness experts.

For the third year in a row, the Med diet with its emphasis on plant-based foods, whole grains, lean protein and olive oil took the top spot in the US News & World Report’s annual ranking of diets.

Its benefits include lowering the risks of diabetes and dementia, and Penelope Cruz is even known to be a fan.

The actress said the diet of her native Spain is how she reached her goal weight four months after giving birth to her son Leo in January 2011.

MED DIET: Spain is often lauded for its cuisine which is rich in olive oil, fruit and vegetables

Eating a Mediterranean diet could also help preserve kidney function in thousands of patients who have already had transplants, new research suggests.

Figures suggest around a third of patients who receive a donor kidney lose function within a decade of the life-changing operation.

But scientists have found following the fish and nut-heavy diet, which cuts back on red meat, could help keep the organ healthier for longer.

Academics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands followed 632 kidney transplant patients for five years.

Mediterranean Fish
KIDNEY BOOST: Doctors found that the Mediterranean fish-heavy diet can prolong the life of the organ

Dr Antonio Gomes-Neto and his team gave participants a score between zero and nine for how much they adhered to a Mediterranean diet.

Patients with a score of seven had a 29% lower risk of kidney function decline.

They also had a 32% lower risk of kidney failure, according to the results published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Gomes-Neto said: “Increasing scientific evidence has demonstrated health benefits of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular and kidney health.

“We show kidney transplant recipients with higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet are less likely to experience function loss of their kidney transplant.”

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