Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Less plaque with adherence to Mediterranean diet

News - Apr. 25, 2017

At the European Atherosclerosis Society (EAS) in Praque, Dr Rocio Mateo Gallego (Hospital U. Miguel Servet, IIS Aragón, Zaragoza, Spain) presented that a greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet led to fewer atherosclerotic plaques, a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease in individuals without a history of heart attack or stroke.

This was investigated in the ’The Aragon Workers' Health Study, a study of 2588 middle aged car workers (95% men, mean age 51 years) without a history of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke. All underwent ultrasound to assess to number and thickness of atherosclerotic plaques in the carotid and femoral arteries and aorta. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was assessed by survey and scored using the Alternative MEDiterranean index (aMED). When subjects in the highest versus lowest quartiles for aMED scores were compared, there was a 40% reduction in the presence of plaques, notably in the femoral arteries (P=0.045). This association was strongest in individuals who were smokers with a 61% (P=0.001) reduction in the presence of plaques in the femoral arteries. The fact that the strongest association was in smokers, suggests that the Mediterranean diet may act to prevent oxidation of atherogenic lipoproteins.

Mediterranean diet is known to prevent cardiovascular disease such as myocardial infarction or stroke. However, the mechanisms responsible for this effect are unknown. The Mediterranean diet consists of plant foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, and seeds), moderate amounts of dairy and saturated fat products combined with a high intake of fish, moderate amounts of poultry and low amounts of red meat, together with olive oil as the main source of fat.

Source: press release EAS April 25 2017