Dieting and Heart Health
This article reviews the effectiveness of a person following the Mediterranean diet in order to promote a healthy lifestyle and potentially lose weight. The different effects of this diet on a person’s overall health and fitness is examined along with the link between this diet and preventing cardiovascular disease. This review focuses specifically on the findings in regard to population-based and experimental data.
One of the best studied diets for cardiovascular health is the Mediterranean diet. This consists of fish, monounsaturated fats from olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes/nuts, and moderate alcohol consumption. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the burden, or even prevent the development, of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, depression, colorectal cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, erectile dysfunction, and cognitive decline. This diet is also known to improve surrogates of cardiovascular disease, such as waist-to-hip ratio, lipids, and markers of inflammation, as well as primary cardiovascular disease outcomes such as death and events in both observational and randomized controlled trial data. These enhancements easily rival those seen with more established tools used to fight cardiovascular disease such as aspirin, beta- blockers, ACE-inhibitors, and exercise. However, it is unclear if the Mediterranean diet offers cardiovascular disease benefit from its individual constituents or in aggregate. Furthermore, the potential benefit of the Mediterranean diet or its components is not yet validated by concrete cardiovascular disease endpoints in randomized trials or observational studies. This review will focus on the effects of the whole and parts of the Mediterranean diet with regard to both population-based as well as experimental data highlighting cardiovascular disease morbidity or mortality and cardiovascular disease surrogates when hard outcomes are not available. Our synthesis will highlight the potential for the Mediterranean diet to act as a key player in cardiovascular disease prevention, and attempt to identify certain aspects of the diet which are particularly beneficial for cardio-protection.
NIH Public Access
Author Manuscript Am J Med. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 March 01. Published in final edited form as: Am J Med. 2015 March ; 128(3): 229–238. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.10.014.
R. Jay Widmer, MD/PhDa, Andreas J. Flammer, MDa, Lilach O. Lerman, MD/PhDb, and Amir Lerman, MDa aMayo School of Graduate Medical Education, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, 201 1st St, SW, Rochester, MN 55902 bMayo School of Graduate Medical Education, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, 201 1st St, SW, Rochester, MN 55902
The Mediterranean diet plays a key role in cardiovascular disease prevention when followed properly but it cannot be distinguished whether it comes from individual constituents or in aggregate. There are key aspects of this diet that are directly beneficial for cardio-protection in individuals.
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