New research suggests a Mediterranean diet could help in the fight against stroke and heart disease.

The Auckland study, which has caught the eye of international news giant CNN, found a diet high in fruits, vegetables and fish might help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people who suffer from heart disease.

The study examined 15,000 people around the world, with an average age of 67, and stable heart disease.

Study author Professor Ralph Stewart from Auckland Hospital said the risk of heart attacks, strokes or death from heart disease was reduced by about one-third for those who followed a Mediterranean diet, according to the CNN report.


Stroke Foundation of New Zealand CEO Mark Vivian said there are valuable lessons for locals in the study.

"This underlines the message we, and other health agencies, have been promoting for some time - that a healthy diet can have a significant influence on your life and well-being," he said.

"And all the ingredients for a healthy diet can be found right here in New Zealand."

Around 9000 New Zealanders suffer a stroke every year, a number that could be significantly reduced with such better lifestyle choices as a healthy diet, regular exercise, giving up smoking and cutting down on alcohol consumption.

The study's findings also suggest that adopting a healthier diet was better for people with heart disease than simply cutting out bad food.

"It's easy to think of cutting out the bad stuff in our diet - but we need to make sure we aren't replacing it with something equally unhealthy," Mr Vivian said.

"You can't go wrong with lots of different fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, and unprocessed foods low in sugar and salt."