Researchers explore what's behind Mediterranean diet and lower cardiovascular risk

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A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health offers insights from a cohort study of women in the U.S. who reported consuming a Mediterranean-type diet. Researchers found a 25 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease among study participants who consumed a diet rich in plants and olive oil and low in meats and sweets. The team also explored why and how a Mediterranean diet might mitigate risk of heart disease and stroke by examining a panel of 40 biomarkers, representing new and established biological contributors to heart disease. The team's results are published in JAMA Network Open.

"Our study has a strong public health message that modest changes in known , particularly those relating to inflammation, and insulin resistance, contribute to the long-term benefit of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease risk. This understanding may have important downstream consequences for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease," said lead author Shafqat Ahmad, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Brigham and at the Harvard Chan School.

Randomized trials in Mediterranean countries and observational studies have previously linked a Mediterranean diet to reductions in cardiovascular disease, but the underlying mechanisms have been unclear. The current research draws on data from more than 25,000 female health professionals who participated in the Women's Health Study. Participants completed food intake questionnaires about diet, provided for measuring the biomarkers, and were followed for up to 12 years. The primary outcomes analyzed in the study were incidences of cardiovascular disease, defined as first events of heart attack, stroke, coronary arterial revascularization and cardiovascular death.

The team categorized as having a low, middle or upper Mediterranean diet intake. They found that 428 (4.2 percent) of the women in the low group experienced a cardiovascular event compared to 356 (3.8 percent) in the middle group and 246 (3.8 percent) in the upper group, representing a relative risk reduction of 23 percent and 28 percent respectively, a benefit that is similar in magnitude to statins or other preventive medications

The team saw changes in signals of inflammation (accounting for 29 percent of the cardiovascular disease risk reduction), glucose metabolism and insulin resistance (27.9 percent), and body max index (27.3 percent). The team also found connections to blood pressure, various forms of cholesterol, branch-chain amino acids and other biomarkers, but found that these accounted for less of the association between Mediterranean diet and risk reduction.

"While prior studies have shown benefit for the Mediterranean diet on reducing cardiovascular events and improving cardiovascular risk factors, it has been a black box regarding the extent to which improvements in known and novel risk factors contribute to these effects," said corresponding author Samia Mora, MD, MHS, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at the Brigham and Harvard Medical School. "In this large study, we found that modest differences in biomarkers contributed in a multi-factorial way to this cardiovascular benefit that was seen over the long term."


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More information: Shafqat Ahmad et al, Assessment of Risk Factors and Biomarkers Associated With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Women Consuming a Mediterranean Diet, JAMA Network Open (2018). DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5708
Journal information: JAMA Network Open

Citation: Researchers explore what's behind Mediterranean diet and lower cardiovascular risk (2018, December 7) retrieved 23 May 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-12-explore-mediterranean-diet-cardiovascular.html
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Dec 07, 2018
Two likely mechanisms are that this diet would provide more potassium and boron than the standard Western diet, which is highly deficient in both these neglected nutrients. The article mentions neither.

Reducing salt intake and increasing potassium intake will reduce the incidence of high blood pressure and other medical problems with the same underlying cause, including especially stroke.

https://www.ahajo...3.004282

https://www.thela...930073-4

Fruit and vegetables are good sources of potassium. Potassium gluconate solution has little taste and, in small doses, throughout the day, is a method of supplementation which could be used to increase the potassium sodium ratio. The RDA for potassium in the USA is 4.7 grams, which would be difficult to achieve with vegetables or fruit.

Continued . . .

Dec 07, 2018
. . . Boron reduces inflammation, arthritis and osteoporosis:

http://arthritist...itis.pdf
https://www.tandf...09003147
https://www.ncbi....4712861/

Reducing generalised inappropriate inflammation will help reduce dementia:

https://medicalxp...mer.html
https://medicalxp...tia.html

Proper links to the research on potassium and boron won't fit in the 1000 character limit here. One day I hope to create a website to do this.

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