According to a review of 50 studies with over one half million participants published in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology, adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. The term metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Some factors include high blood pressure, low levels of the good HDL cholesterol and high blood sugar levels.
In this particular study, the researchers not only confirmed that following a Mediterranean style eating pattern reduces the risk of this syndrome, but it is also associated independently with a smaller waist circumference and lower triglyceride levels, also metabolic syndrome risk factors. The researchers mention that a possible explanation for these findings involve the antioxidant and anti-inﬂammatory effects of the Mediterranean diet as a whole but also its individual components and speciﬁcally olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and ﬁsh.
According to lead investigator Demosthenes Panagiotakos, Ph.D., associate professor in Biostatistics-Epidemiology of Nutrition, Department of Science of Dietetics – Nutrition, Harokopio University of Athens and Christina-Maria Kastorini, MSc, Ph.D. cand., the Mediterranean diet is one of the best-known and well-studied dietary patterns, which has been shown to be associated with decreased mortality from all causes. “To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first work that has systematically assessed, through a large meta-analysis, the role of the Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome
and its components,” Panagiotakos said.
He also suggests that better eating seems to be an effective and affordable means for preventing cardiovascular diseases, and all populations and various cultures can easily adopt this dietary pattern. “The Mediterranean diet can be adopted by other populations groups by educating people, especially from childhood and for this, the role of dietitians and teachers is of crucial importance”, Panagiotakos explained to Olive Oil Times today.
One issue that comes up at the mention of the Mediterranean diet is the high fat content and its effect on body weight. Panagiotakos said that although there happens to be a controversy on this, he would recommend the Mediterranean diet as a weight loss tool. “I have published some work showing that the Mediterranean diet can be used as a means for weight management and there are many other works suggesting the same,” he mentioned in an email to Olive Oil Times. In a recent study published last month, Panagiotakos and his colleagues evaluated past studies and reported that the Mediterranean diet was not found to cause weight gain and can be a useful tool to reduce body weight, especially when the diet is followed for six months or more.