Background: Reduced cardiovascular mortality and morbidity have been shown in persons adhering to Mediterranean-inspired diets (MIDs). Although the underlying mechanisms of this association are poorly understood, the importance of increasing dietary amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids of the n-3 series has been emphasized.
Objective: We investigated whether a MID provided to healthy subjects would affect 1) the inflammatory process and endothelial indexes such as vasoregulation and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and 2) serum phospholipid fatty acid composition.
Design: A total of 22 subjects (10 women) received a MID or an ordinary Swedish diet (OSD) for 4 wk in a crossover fashion. Concentrations of lipids and fatty acids, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and interleukin 6, both before and after lipopolysaccharide stimulation; the number of leukocytes and platelets; and VEGF and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 were analyzed.
Results: The plasma ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids was substantially lower after the MID than after the OSD (x +/- SEM: 4.72 +/- 0.19 and 2.60 +/- 0.17, respectively; P < 0.0001). Neither C-reactive protein nor interleukin 6 concentrations changed significantly after the MID compared with the OSD. The total number of leukocytes and platelets was 10% (P < 0.05) and 15% (P < 0.001) lower, respectively, after the MID than after the OSD. Serum VEGF concentrations were lower after the MID than after the OSD (237 +/- 30 and 206 +/- 25 pg/mL, respectively; P = 0.0014).
Conclusions: A MID reduces the number of platelets and leukocytes and VEGF concentrations in healthy subjects. This may be linked to higher serum concentrations of n-3 fatty acids, which promote a favorable composition of phospholipids.