Mediterranean Diet, Fewer Heart Events Linked

Article excerpt

ORLANDO, FLA. -- Eating a Mediterranean diet is associated with significantly reduced levels of C-reactive protein and other inflammatory markers, Demosthenes Panagiotakos, Ph.D., said at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association.

This new observation from a large prospective cohort study provides a likely pathophysiologic explanation for the repeated observation in multiple studies that adherence to a Mediterranean diet sharply reduces the risk of cardiovascular events, added Dr. Panagiotakos of Harokopion University of Athens.

He noted that just last summer, Dr. Antonia Trichopoulou and colleagues at the university reported that greater adherence to a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, vegetables, legumes, fish, chicken, fruit, and pasta, with infrequent consumption of red meat, was associated with an adjusted 33% reduction in relative risk of mortality due to coronary heart disease and a 24% reduction in death due to cancer in a 44-month prospective observational study involving more than 22,000 Greek adults (N. Engl. J. Med. 348[26]:2599-2608, 2003).

This is just the latest in a string of favorable reports dating back to the 1970s, when the epidemiologist Dr. Ancel Keys reported on the landmark Seven Countries Study. But the mechanism of benefit has been unclear. Some have argued that the explanation is that the Mediterranean diet lowers blood pressure. …