The Mediterranean diet has been shown to bestow countless health benefits to those who consume it, including cardiovascular benefits, mental health benefits, and metabolic health benefits. Metabolic
syndrome is of particular interest to researchers, as there have been significant increases in the various components of the condition (high blood pressure, high sugar levels, excess body weight, and abnormal cholesterol levels) in the recent years which is very likely to be related to dietary changes across all cultures.
A new study in press in the journal Metabolism aimed to examine the relationship between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and metabolic syndrome in Polish adults.
8821 Polish adults (aged 45-69 years) participated in this study. Dietary information was collected via self-reported questionnaire and adherence to the Mediterranean diet was scored using the MedTypeDiet Score system.
Height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure measurements were taken for each participant during a physical examination.
Other socio-demographic and lifestyle information was also collected.
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was the same between men and women.
MetTypeDiet scores were significantly (and negatively) associated with waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, and triglyceride levels.
Those with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet were least likely to have metabolic syndrome, obesity, high triglyceride levels, and hypertension.
Moderate wine consumption, low dairy intake, and a high unsaturated/saturated fatty acid ratio were negatively associated with metabolic syndrome.
The results of this study add to the mounting evidence that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for lowering the risk of metabolic
disease. Specifically, this study found that those with the high adherence to the Mediterranean diet were less likely to have metabolic syndrome, obesity, high triglyceride levels, and hypertension. Looking at individual dietary components, moderate wine consumption, low dairy intake and a higher ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids resulted in a significantly lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome in Polish adults.
The Mediterranean Diet, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, moderate wine consumption, et cetera, has been found to possess
cardiovascular benefits. Exactly how these heart-healthy benefits come to be is not exactly known, though there are many possible scenarios.
One such example is the functionality of the endothelium (the cells that line the blood vessels). It is known that poor endothelial function is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, though its relationship to the Mediterranean diet is not well known.
A new study published in The Journal of Nutrition aimed to examine the relationship between the Mediterranean Diet and endothelial function, as well as possible effects on low-grade inflammation, another problem that has been linked to poor cardiovascular health.
557 adults (aged 59.6 +/- 6.9years) with increased risk for cardiovascular disease were recruited for this study.
Diet information was collected via self-reported questionnaire.
The following indicators for endothelial health were measured for each participant and taken at the beginning of the study, and again after 7 years: von Willenbrand factor, soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, soluble endothelial selectin, soluble thrombomodulin, and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1.
The following indicators for low-grade inflammation were measured for each participant and taken at the beginning of the study, and again after 7 years: C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, interleukin-6, interleukin-8, tumor necrosis factor α, and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1.
Other information collected and/or measured included: sex, glucose metabolism, energy intake, BMI, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and smoking habits.
Higher consumption of fish was associated with better endothelial function after 7 years.
Total consumption of vegetables, fruit, alcohol, dairy, or meat had no effect on endothelial function after 7 years.
There were no associations between the Mediterranean diet, or component there-in, and low-grade inflammation after 7 years.
Higher consumption of lean fish, raw vegetables, and fewer dairy products were associated with better endothelial function after 7 years.
Higher consumption of fresh fruit, poultry, fewer high-fat dairy products, and moderate consumption of wine was associated with less low-grade inflammation.
The results of this study indicate that adhering to the Mediterranean diet, specifically increased consumption of lean fish, raw vegetables, moderate consumption of wine and low consumption of dairy products are associated with better
endothelial function and lower low-grade inflammation in adults with a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
These results indicate that endothelial function and inflammation may be at least one of the explanations why those adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet have improved cardiovascular health than those consuming other diets.