Concept: Mediterranean diet
Background Observational cohort studies and a secondary prevention trial have shown an inverse association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular risk. We conducted a randomized trial of this diet pattern for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events. Methods In a multicenter trial in Spain, we randomly assigned participants who were at high cardiovascular risk, but with no cardiovascular disease at enrollment, to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet (advice to reduce dietary fat). Participants received quarterly individual and group educational sessions and, depending on group assignment, free provision of extra-virgin olive oil, mixed nuts, or small nonfood gifts. The primary end point was the rate of major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes). On the basis of the results of an interim analysis, the trial was stopped after a median follow-up of 4.8 years. Results A total of 7447 persons were enrolled (age range, 55 to 80 years); 57% were women. The two Mediterranean-diet groups had good adherence to the intervention, according to self-reported intake and biomarker analyses. A primary end-point event occurred in 288 participants. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios were 0.70 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54 to 0.92) and 0.72 (95% CI, 0.54 to 0.96) for the group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil (96 events) and the group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with nuts (83 events), respectively, versus the control group (109 events). No diet-related adverse effects were reported. Conclusions Among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. (Funded by the Spanish government’s Instituto de Salud Carlos III and others; Controlled-Trials.com number, ISRCTN35739639 .).
Despite convincing evidence in the Mediterranean region, the cardiovascular benefit of the Mediterranean diet is not well established in non-Mediterranean countries and the optimal criteria for defining adherence are unclear. The population attributable fraction (PAF) of adherence to this diet is also unknown.
To assess the adherence to the Mediterranean diet in the population of Dalmatia in southern Croatia.
Because of the high density of fat, high-fat diets are perceived as likely to lead to increased bodyweight, hence health-care providers are reluctant to recommend them to overweight or obese individuals. We assessed the long-term effects of ad libitum, high-fat, high-vegetable-fat Mediterranean diets on bodyweight and waist circumference in older people at risk of cardiovascular disease, most of whom were overweight or obese.
Mediterranean diets may be healthier than typical Western diets.
Walnuts are comprised of a complex array of biologically active constituents with individual cancer-protective properties. Here, we assessed the potential benefit of whole walnut consumption in a mouse tumor bioassay using azoxymethane (AOM). In study 1, a modest reduction (1.3-fold) in tumor numbers was observed in mice fed a standard diet (AIN-76A) containing 9.4% walnuts (15% of total fat). In Study 2, the effects of walnut supplementation were tested in the Total Western Diet (TWD). There was a significant reduction (2.3-fold; p<0.02) in tumor numbers in male mice fed TWD containing 7% walnuts (10.5% of total fat). Higher concentrations of walnuts lacked inhibitory effects, particularly in female mice, indicating there may be optimal levels of dietary walnut intake for cancer prevention. Since components of the Mediterranean diet have been shown to affect the gut microbiome, the effects of walnuts were therefore tested in fecal samples using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Carcinogen treatment reduced the diversity and richness of the gut microbiome, especially in male mice, which exhibited lower variability and greater sensitivity to environmental changes. Analysis of individual operational taxonomic units (OTUs) identified specific groups of bacteria associated with carcinogen exposure, walnut consumption and/or both variables. Correlation analysis also identified specific OTU-clades that were strongly associated with the presence and number of tumors. Taken together, our results indicate that walnuts afford partial protection to the colon against a potent carcinogenic insult, and this may be due in part to walnut-induced changes to the gut microbiome.
Olive (Olea europaea L.), long-living, ever-green fruit tree of the Old World, has been part of a traditional landscape in the Mediterranean area for centuries. Both the fruits consumed after processing and the oil extracted from the fruits are among the main components of the Mediterranean diet, widely used for salads and cooking, as well as for preserving other food. Documentations show that the ancient use of this beautiful tree also includes lamp fuel production, wool treatment, soap production, medicine, and cosmetics. However, unlike the majority of the fruit species, olive propagation is still a laborious practice. As regards traditional propagation, rooting of cuttings and grafting stem segments onto rootstocks are possible, former being achieved only when the cuttings are collected in specific periods (spring or beginning of autumn), and latter only when skilled grafters are available. In both the cases, performance of the cultivars varies considerably. The regeneration of whole plants from ovules, on the other hand, is used only occasionally. Micropropagation of olive is not easy mainly due to explant oxidation, difficulties in explant disinfection, and labor-oriented establishment of in vitro shoot cultures. However today, the progress in micropropagation technology has made available the complete protocols for several Mediterranean cultivars. This chapter describes a micropropagation protocol based on the segmentation of nodal segments obtained from elongated shoots.
The authors aimed to evaluate the association of the traditional Mediterranean diet and major food groups with incidence of and mortality from cerebrovascular disease (CBVD) in a Mediterranean population. The study population was a cohort of 23,601 participants from the Greek segment of the EPIC Study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) who were free of cardiovascular diseases and cancer at baseline (1994-1999). Diet was assessed by means of a validated food frequency questionnaire. A 10-point scale integrating key Mediterranean diet characteristics was used to assess the participants' degree of adherence to this diet. During a median follow-up period of 10.6 years (1994-2009), 395 confirmed incident cases and 196 deaths from CBVD were recorded. Using Cox proportional hazards regression and adjusting for potential confounders, increased adherence to the Mediterranean diet, as measured by 2-point increments in score, was inversely associated with CBVD incidence (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.85, 95% confidence interval: 0.74, 0.96) and mortality (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.73, 1.06). These inverse trends were mostly evident among women and with respect to ischemic rather than hemorrhagic CBVD and were largely driven by consumption of vegetables, legumes, and olive oil. These data provide support for an inverse association of adherence to the Mediterranean diet with CBVD incidence and mortality.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet (MD) for protecting against chronic disorders such as cardiovascular disease are usually attributed to high consumption of certain food groups such as vegetables, and low consumption of other food groups such as meat. The influence of food processing techniques such as food preparation and cooking on the nutrient composition and nutritional value of these foods is not generally taken into consideration. In this narrative review, we consider the mechanistic and epidemiological evidence that food processing influences phytochemicals in selected food groups in the MD (olives, olive oil, vegetables and nuts), and that this influences the protective effects of these foods against chronic diseases associated with inflammation. We also examine how the pro-inflammatory properties of meat consumption can be modified by Mediterranean cuisine. We conclude by discussing whether food processing should be given greater consideration, both when recommending a MD to the consumer and when evaluating its health properties.
Hypertension can be prevented by adopting healthy dietary patterns. Our aim was to assess the 4-year effect on blood pressure (BP) control of a randomized feeding trial promoting the traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern.