Objective: To evaluate associations between components of the Mediterranean diet and circulating markers of inflammation in a large cohort of asymptomatic subjects at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
Subjects/methods: A total of 339 men and 433 women aged between 55 and 80 years at high cardiovascular risk because of presence of diabetes or at least three classical cardiovascular risk factors, food consumption was determined by a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Serum concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured by immunonephelometry and those of interleukin-6 (IL-6), intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: After adjusting for age, gender, body mass index, diabetes, smoking, use of statins, non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs and aspirin, a higher consumption of fruits and cereals was associated with lower concentrations of IL-6 (P for trend 0.005;both). Subjects with the highest consumption of nuts and virgin olive oil showed the lowest concentrations of VCAM-1, ICAM-1, IL-6 and CRP; albeit only for ICAM-1 was this difference statistically significant in the case of nuts (for trend 0.003) and for VCAM-1 in the case of virgin olive oil (P for trend 0.02). Participants with higher adherence to the Mediterranean-type diet did not show significantly lower concentrations of inflammatory markers (P<0.1 for VCAM-1 and ICAM-1).
Conclusions: The consumption of some typical Mediterranean foods (fruits, cereals, virgin olive oil and nuts) was associated with lower serum concentrations of inflammatory markers especially those related to endothelial function, in subjects with high cardiovascular risk living in a Mediterranean country.