The Mediterranean diet for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

January 1, 2006 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

The Mediterranean diet for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Year: 2006
Authors: De Logeril, M, Salen, P.
Publication Name: Pub. Health Nutr.
Publication Details: Volume 9, Number 1A, Page 118.


Consuming a Mediterranean diet has consistently been associated with a lower incidence of chronic disease – most notably heart disease and cancer. The “Mediterranean diet” is not a specific diet plan per se, but rather a concept introduced in the 1950’s that refers to lifestyle habits traditionally followed by residents of the Mediterranean region. An integral part of the dietary pattern is the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids from plant based sources rich in ALA and fish containing EPA and DHA. In this review article, the authors describe present knowledge pertaining to the Mediterranean dietary pattern and cardiovascular diseases. Epidemiological studies and randomized dietary trials suggest that the Mediterranean diet may play an integral role in the prevention of heart disease. The ALA-rich Mediterranean diet employed in the landmark Lyon Diet Heart Study showed a 50 – 70% reduction in risk of recurrence of secondary cardiac events after 4 years of follow-up in CHD patients. In this trial, the diet tested provided less than 30% energy from fat and less than 8% energy from saturated fats. In terms of essential fatty acids, the intake of linoleic acid (LA) was restricted to 4% of energy and intake of ALA represented more than 0.6% of energy. ALA was provided in the form of canola oil and canola oil based margarine. ALA intake has also been associated with lower risk of various cardiac events in additional studies including the Nurse’s Health Study in which 1% increase in ALA intake (expressed as percent of energy) was associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of non-fatal coronary heart disease and the Seven Countries Study. The authors indicate that based on our current knowledge, ALA should represent approximately 0.6 – 1.0% of total daily energy or an intake of approximately 2g per day, whereas the intake of LA should not exceed 7g/day. It is noted in the review that the simplest and easiest way to obtain adequate daily ALA intake is to use canola oil for food preparation and salad dressing since 100g of canola oil provides about 8g of ALA. Two small tablespoons of canola oil provides 2g of ALA. Other appreciable sources of ALA include flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed, walnuts, and green leafy vegetables. The science to date supports a recommended intake of 2g/d of ALA in addition to a diet rich in oleic acid, low in saturated and omega 6 fatty acids for cardiovascular benefits.

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