Have you been thinking that the phrase “high fat diet” can’t possibly be a good thing? Well think again. Now it seems that there are surprising benefits to a high fat Mediterranean diet.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that a high-fat Mediterranean diet may offer some protection against certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and diabetes. The study was conducted by Hanna Bloomfield, MD, MPH, a professor or medicine at the University of Minnesota and associate chief of staff for research at the Minneapolis VA. Dr Bloomfield and her colleagues analyzed about 56 previous studies, focusing on the health benefits of a high fat Mediterranean diet.

The researchers defined a Mediterranean diet as having at least 2 of 7 components, and no restriction on healthy fats. According to experts, the 7 components are “high mono-unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio, which can be the result of using olive oil as a main cooking ingredient; high fruit and vegetable intake; high consumption of dark green leafy vegetables; high grain and cereal intake; moderate red wine consumption; moderate consumption of dairy products; and low consumption of red meat and meat products with an increased consumption of fish.”

You’ve probably seen past studies indicating that a Mediterranean diet is good for you, in particular for your heart and bone health. It is commonly known that people who live in countries on the Mediterranean Sea tend to have lower rates of heart disease and cancer and are generally healthier. According to the new study, even though the high fat Mediterranean diet may not lower mortality rates in general, it may be effective in fighting some diseases, due to the anti-inflammatory effects of the diet.

Thinking about changing your eating habits, but need more incentive? Here it is. A separate study published last month in Lancet looked at the long-term effects of high fat Mediterranean diets on body weight. The study concluded that such a dietary plan may actually help with weight loss. Researchers believe that this is because people on low-fat diets may get more of their calories from sugar.

This may lead you to think that all fats are good for you. But before you run out and buy a big bag of chips, remember that it is important to consume healthy fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts, and fatty fish. Depending on where you live, it may take a little more effort in order to eat this way. You will probably have to shop for good, fresh food at the market and learn to cook.

But hey, cooking like you live on the Med is delicious and fun. Not to mention good for you. Just remember to stay out of the chip aisle.