Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular health.
Sommaire de l'article
Diets that are high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains and include fish, nuts, and low-fat dairy products have protective health effects. The traditional Mediterranean diet encompasses these dietary characteristics. Other compounds of the Mediterranean diet, the antioxidants, which exist in abundance in vegetables, fruit, beverages, and also virgin olive oil, may contribute to the prevention of coronary heart disease and possibly several forms of cancer and other diseases, thus providing a plausible explanation for its apparent benefits. It may be misleading to focus on a single element of the diet; this may explain, at least in part, the disappointing and frustrating results obtained in trials with vitamin supplementation, prematurely thought to be « the magic bullet » for preventing a myriad of chronic diseases. The results of intervention studies aimed at evaluating whether Mediterranean-type diets are superior to classic diets in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease have all been encouraging. The biologic mechanisms by which these compounds might exert their effects include, among others, antioxidant functions and induction of detoxification enzymes. However, from a public health perspective it is not essential to wait for elucidation of every mechanism underlying health promotion activities and interventions; given the simplicity of the diet quality score, increasing the intake of recommended foods represents a practical recommendation for improving health.