When Egyptian Mohamed ElShorbagy became the No. 1 squash player in the world this year, did his lifelong Mediterranean diet give him an edge?

We’re betting it did. The plant-centric, fiber-rich diet that includes healthy oils, legumes, cereals, fish, lean proteins and not much meat or dairy provides what you need to have a healthy heart and very agile muscles and bones.

But you don’t have to be a competitive athlete to reap the amazing benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

If you have had a heart attack or stroke and are taking a statin to help lower your lousy LDL cholesterol level and avoid a future blockage or clot, the Mediterranean diet can help save your life.

Unfortunately, many folks who take a statin think it’s a green light for eating inflammatory, high-sat-fat foods. One study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that caloric and fat intake increases significantly (9.6 percent and 14.4 percent respectively) over time for folks taking statins!

If that’s you, cut it out and listen up! In a new study in the International Journal of Cardiology, Italian researchers found that combining statins and a Mediterranean diet reduces bodywide inflammation big time.

That’s good news if you’ve previously had a cardiovascular event because if you’ve got a lot of inflammation, your risk of premature death doubles!

So, squash that impulse to rely on your statin to provide complete protection from another heart attack or stroke. It can’t do it alone. You need to upgrade your diet to downgrade your risk.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.