Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have identified a metabolic signature that can reliably monitor an individual’s adherence and metabolic response to the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet). The signature can also predict a patient’s future risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The metabolic signature made up of 67 metabolites (small molecules produced by different metabolic processes) was concluded to be a reliable indicator of whether or not a person had adhered to the MedDiet.
The signature also revealed the individual’s metabolic response to the diet. The research team determined that higher levels of the metabolic signature were linked to reduced long term risks of cardiovascular disease.
A blood test can authenticate the metabolic signature by detecting metabolites found in cells that circulate in the bloodstream. The researchers reported that the blood test offered a more accurate gauge of dietary compliance than the traditionally used self-reported data.
A machine-learning model was used to develop the metabolic signature by analyzing hundreds of metabolites contained in blood samples taken from almost 2000 participants of the Spanish PREDIMED study; a study that investigated the long-term effects of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease.
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The metabolic signature was verified by applying the same research methods to blood samples collected from 6,868 participants of a U.S.-based health study.
Participants’ adherence to the MedDiet was initially assessed using a Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener whilst their blood plasma was profiled using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to screen the metabolome.
It was concluded that the metabolic signature and its metabolite components could lead to a better understanding of how the Mediterranean diet would specifically benefit people with complex metabolic diseases and holds the potential for use in future personalized nutritional interventions.
As results were mirrored across both the Spanish and U.S. study populations despite variations in diets, lifestyle and the environments, the approach of this pioneering study into developing a metabolic signature for the Mediterranean diet was considered to be robust.
Marta Guasch-Ferré, a co-author of the Mediterranean diet’s metabolic signature study had previously presented a report to the American Heart Association which concluded that eating more than a half tablespoon of olive oil per day could lower the risk of CVD by 15 percent.
Guasch-Ferré told Olive Oil Times, “All types of olive oil are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, and the total consumption of olive oil was associated with a lower risk of CVD in our study.”
Last month a study published by the British Medical Journal hailed the Mediterranean diet as the most effective diet for reducing the risk of heart disease.