Cardiovascular Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of CVD.

The first strategy to treat atherosclerosis is to modify lifestyle habits.

In the last decades epidemiological, clinical and experimental studies have demonstrated that diet plays a central role in the prevention of atherosclerosis.

What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside our arteries.

Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to our organs and other parts of our body.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis

  • High total cholesterol

  • High Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)

  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the blood

  • Hypertension

  • Smoking

  • Diabetes mellitus

  • Obesity

  • Sedentary lifestyle

Has the Mediterranean diet cardio-protective properties?

Epidemiological studies and several intervention trials have demonstrated the protective effects associated with the adherence of a Mediterranean diet in primary and secondary prevention of Cardiovascular disease.

The Scientific Advisory Committee of the American Heart Association stated that the Mediterranean Diet has impressive effects on CVD.

In particular, early data from the Seven Countries study in the 1960s showed that populations in countries of the Mediterranean region, such as Greece and Italy, experienced lower mortality from CVD compared with northern European populations or the US, probably as a result of different dietary patterns.

Thereafter, the potential beneficial effects of the Mediterranean dietary pattern on longevity and health outcomes have become a source of much interest and investigation.

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