Mediterranean style diets and cardiovascular disease

A Mediterranean style diet was consistently associated with lower cardiovascular risk

Adhering to a Mediterranean style diet was associated with a 39% lower coronary mortality risk and a 29% lower cardiovascular mortality risk in middle-aged and elderly European men and women in the HALE project. The Mediterranean diet score we used was based on eight basic food groups: bread, legumes, vegetables, fruit, fish, fats, dairy products, and meats. A high intake of bread, legumes, vegetables, fruit and fats rich in unsaturated fatty acids, a moderate intake of fish and a low intake of dairy and meat was characteristic of a Mediterranean diet.

Measuring habitual diets

The HALE project dealt with European elderly men and women participating in the FINE and SENECA Studies. They were 70-90 years old at baseline and were followed for 10 years. In both studies, dietary history was recorded as the measure of habitual food consumption.

About the FINE study

In 1984, the SCS field surveys were extended with different aspects of health in the FINE (Finland Italy Netherlands Elderly) study. Similar surveys were also carried out in Serbia and Crete. Read more about the FINE study.

About the HALE project

The HALE (Healthy Ageing: a Longitudinal study in Europe) project started in 2001 as an extension of three longitudinal studies: the 35-year follow-up data of the Seven Countries Study, the Finland, Italy, Netherlands Elderly (FINE) study and the Survey in Europe on Nutrition in the Elderly: a Concerted Action (SENECA) project. Read more about the HALE project.

More about the relationship between diet and CVD

Serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease

Cholesterol found in the blood serum is, in higher quantities, associated with a higher incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD). This is the conclusion after observing serum cholesterol levels and CHD risk mortality for forty years.

More about dietary patterns

Dietary patterns and all-cause mortality

Diets contain nutrients, and these are generally highly correlated with other factors due to the choice of foods in which they occur, but also on the consumption of a particular food at the expense of another one. These factors are taken into account when indicators of dietary patterns are evaluated.

Mediterranean dietary patterns in the 1960s

The traditional Mediterranean diet was a nutritionally adequate diet with a varying total fat content, low in saturated fat and very low in trans fat, rich in fiber and antioxidant vitamins or flavonoids.