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At least if you eat it in moderate amounts.
Amid a spate of depressing new studies suggesting that the things we love are terrible for us—including one positing that carbs are linked to lung cancer, and another tying alcohol to stomach cancer—comes one new report we can get behind: According to a new study published in the European Heart Journal, eating some junk food is fine as long as the rest of your diet consists of healthy foods such as those found in the Mediterranean diet.
The study, conducted over more than 15,000 people in 39 countries, showed that people who eat a "Mediterranean" diet—one comprised mostly of fruit, vegetables, fish, and unrefined foods—are less at risk for heart attack and stroke. This isn't the first time we've heard this news: This type of diet has shown similar effects in past studies. But the European Heart Journal study also showed that the people who ate typically high levels of those foods were not negatively affected by also sometimes eating the less-healthy foods—like refined carbohydrates, deep-fried foods, sugars and desserts.
"The main message is that some foods—and particularly fruit and vegetables—seem to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and this benefit is not explained by traditional risk factors such as good and bad cholesterol or blood pressure," said Auckland City Hospital's Professor Ralph Stewart, who led the study, according to Science Daily. But, he continued, "the study found no evidence of harm from modest consumption of foods such as refined carbohydrates, deep fried foods, sugars and desserts." (He did make a point to say that the assessments were conducted in such a fashion that "some harm cannot be excluded.")
The takeaway, we suppose, is not exactly a shock: Try to eat healthy, and feel free to allow yourself the occasional indulgence. Still, it's nice to have these nuggets of conventional wisdom backed up by science every once in awhile.